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Jan 09, 2017 05:24 AM EST

Ecology Education: Hands On Learning In Elementary Schools

Children use protective glasses to look into the sky during a partial solar eclipse
Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors is made up of volunteers and educators that aims to bring Ecology Programs to Portland Metro schools.
(Photo : Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Bethany Thomas says that their mission at ECO is to inspire elementary students to connect to nature by providing hands-on ecology programs.

What is ECO? It is the abbreviation of Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors. The program is made up of volunteers and educators that aims to bring Ecology Programs to Portland Metro schools. The team behind ECO is passionate about connecting students to nature.

ECO helps build science literacy and environmental awareness, as featured in Ecology Outdoors. ECO is described to be a classroom without walls. Before ECO, Bethany studied Environmental Science and Geography and graduated with a double Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon.

Then she founded Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors in 2005 with Sarah Bercume. In 2016 alone, about 2,500 students from thirteen elementary schools in the greater Portland metro area joined the Ecology enrichment programs.

According to Bethany Thomas, students these days lack interaction with nature. Bethany hopes that Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors will spark something inside each elementary school student. That spark can become a love for nature and critical thinking, as reported by The Huffington Post. She uses Ecology as an example. Ecology is all about interconnected systems and humans are a part of that system.

Thomas is excited to share that kids who have gone through the program have an elevated awareness and interest in the natural world around them. These children can become caring citizens. Just by bringing experiential nature lessons in classrooms and getting the kids outdoors to explore nature, they become agents of positive change in the world.

Plus, according to Bethany Thomas, getting some time in nature reduces stress. And when stress is reduced, IQ and awareness soars.

With the gradual increase of changing temperatures in the world, the rate of pollution happening in different countries, these children could just become the next pioneers for ecological change and solution to the world.

Check out ECO's video below:

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