Outdoor learning and access to nature provides positive benefits for people of all ages. Most of these programs are provided by nature centers, outdoor-science schools, parks and zoos. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the survival of programs that provide outdoor environmental and science education as well.
Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) Board of Trustees has recently made a three-year commitment to support the environmental education program at the University of Akron Field Station at Bath Nature Preserve. Established in 1998, the mission of The University of Akron Field Station (UAFS) is to serve the needs of the people of northeastern Ohio through research, education, and service that promotes a better understanding of our relationship with the natural environment.
“We are pleased to help support the work of Dr. Roketenetz and the UAFS at Bath Nature Preserve,” said S+W President Vince Messerly. “Outdoor learning experiences, particularly ones that promote the importance of wetlands, engage students and encourage positive attitudes about our environment.”
“For the last five years, we have had the pleasure of hosting more than 4,000 students from northeast Ohio on field trips to the University of Akron Field Station, as well as conducting classroom visits for an additional 4,500 students so that they can learn about nature, biomimicry, wetlands and conservation,” says Field Station Manager Lara Roketenetz, Ph.D. ”This generous and sustained support from S+W will allow us to continue to offer these important environmental education experiences to our local schools at no charge.”
S+W’s contribution will help the University of Akron Foundation develop an outdoor learning center at the Bath Nature Preserve and provide continuing support for environmental education programs for urban and rural K-12 students in the region.
“This (gift) removes a very real financial hardship and burden for many of our partner school districts, which might otherwise prevent their learners from having access to quality nature-based experiential learning,” Roketenetz continued. “We are very grateful for the S+W donation and can’t wait to continue our important work!”
Situated on the 411-acre Bath Nature Preserve, the UAFS is located between Cleveland Akron/Canton. The facility is among the largest terrestrial ecology field stations in Ohio.