Education Outside the Box
The annual North Park School Earth Day event was initiated in 2009 during the first year that the members of Jackson County Outdoor Education Network started working together! The event has happened every year since, except one when it was cancelled because road conditions during a big snowstorm preventing an out of county key presenter pulling a big activity trailer from driving to North Park!
4th-8th grade students visited a variety of educational stations on topics related to the theme, "Sustaining our Earth." Agency mascots like Smokey Bear, Talon, Puddles and Woodsey Owl visited the K-3rd grade students, the Ag program will do a hydroponics project with the 3rd grade and K-2nd grades will do an Earth Day art project plus there is a coloring contest!
Earth Day is hosted by the Jackson County Outdoor Education Network, aka JCOEN, a group that initially organized themselves during a breakfast brainstorming meeting at the CSU Extension Office in the summer of 2008 when 4-H Leader and parent Jamie Brown convinced CSU Extension Agent, Deb Alpe to bring teachers, community members and natural resource agency people together to discuss the idea of starting the group. Ever since that enthusiastic breakfast, CSU Extension has facilitated the JCOEN group that has worked together with North Park School District staff to offer more natural resource and outdoor education activities opportunities in our school.
JCOEN membership includes teachers, natural resource agency representatives and other interested community members who meet quarterly to plan events, network, share information and ideas. New staff are quickly engaged with the group. Teachers and other community members get to know local representatives of many natural resource agencies. The network provides a forum for building relationships and sharing resources to offer our North Park youth the best possible natural resource and outdoor learning opportunities! What an awesome way for our teachers to engage students in learning activities that meet educational standards while our agency partners succeed in meeting their community education goals, all the while building stronger working relationships in our North Park community!
Active Agency partners in 2017 are:
North Park Schools
Arapahoe National Wildlife Refuge
Colorado Parks and Wildlife US Forest Service Colorado State Forest State Parks Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Natural Resource Conservation Service North Park Conservation Service
Owl Mountain Partnership
North Platte Basin Roundtable
Along with a number of talented community members including artists, ranchers and astronomers.
The JCOEN is perhaps the greatest education collaboration around. It is such a fun networking platform that Grand County has organized one as well modeled after the success in Jackson County. What an awesome opportunity for young people to find mentors that lead into a great career but also bring a new aspect of the community into our education community. The 4H Wildlife program was the spark that interested us in the beginning and has turned into an incredible model for education that happens outside of the box!
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