Partnering with Local Educators in an Outdoor Classroom
While school classrooms may be kind of stuffy, holding classes outside is always a winning idea. Who doesn’t remember being thrilled when a teacher announced that class is outdoors today?
The Little Miami Conservancy takes that idea of the outdoor classroom to new heights, partnering with local educators and groups to create great hands on opportunities for students of all ages to learn and understand the wonders of nature.
Many of these outdoor classrooms showcase not only the recreational value of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River, but are taught about the many aspects of wildlife and the science of nature. The hands on nature of these outdoor classrooms lends itself to enjoyment, by both the students and volunteers. Many of these students see the natural world in a different way after attending class outdoors.
"Into the Wild" at Loveland High School
Loveland High School has participated in outdoor programing over the past two years which are designed as “on the river” kayak experiences where students learn about the science of environmental DNA (eDNA), and understand the habitats of the Little Miami River. “Into the Wild” is the brainchild of Loveland High School Teacher Kristin Henderson as a special program of the English and Literature department at Loveland High School. While students last year were able to actually kayak the Little Miami during their final week as seniors, the rainy weather kept this year’s class off the river. However, the class was able to practice fly-fishing casting and studied environmental topics in the classroom.
River Floats with Mary Haven Youth Center
As part of our youth partnerships, naturalists from various groups presented information about the Little Miami State and National Scenic River as part of a program designed to both teach and ignite student’s love of nature. As part of this series, students participated in scientific lectures and then enjoyed an outdoor float adventure to reinforce knowledge learned in the classroom. The classroom curriculum included understanding of what the Little Miami Conservancy does to support stewardship of the river and its tributaries. Students also studied geology of the Little Miami River covering glacial activity thousands of years in the making, protection and ethical handling wildlife and of fish caught and released. During the outdoor sessions, students enjoyed sport casting.
Students on the float viewed and observed aquatic life – freshwater mussels, small mouth bass, and frogs and participated in eDNA collection for scientific study. In addition they were taught water safety around and in the Little Miami River. Hats off to our instructors, Bill Schroeder from LMC, Dave Woehr from the Friends of Warren County Parks, and Ohio Wildlife Officer – Jason Keller.
2023 Water Camps with ADVENTURE CREW
Among its interpretive activities and events, Little Miami Conservancy partners with other non-profits, like Buckeye United Fly Fishers, the Izaak Walton League, local Schools, and ADVENTURE CREW, a regional nonprofit that provides inner city junior and senior high school students with outdoor opportunities and adventures year-round. In the Spring and Fall these included float trips on the Little Miami State and National Scenic River and other waterways in the region. We and our partners believe fishing opportunities and interpretive activities help students understand and appreciate ecosystems and habitats that need protection, conservation, and support.
Summer activities of ADVENTURE CREW, included water events with hands-on training on macroinvertebrates – insects seen without a telescope - an essential food source for many of the smaller streambed creatures near the bottom of the food chain.
Learning About our Natural World Occurs all Year Long
The Little Miami Conservancy is committed to supporting stewardship of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River all year long, whether during the summer months where visitors to Southwest Ohio flock to the river for kayaking and fishing, or the surrounding area for hiking and biking. However, embedding a love of this national wild and scenic river is a yearlong project. Area students are taught river and nature essentials that can fuel a lifelong love affair with the great outdoors including the Little Miami State and National Scenic River.
Acknowledgements to our Educational Partners
Many thanks to non-profits, volunteers, schools and supporters; Adventure Crew, Buckeye United Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League, Loveland City Schools, The Seven Hills School, Little Miami Schools, Indian Hills Schools, Xenia Schools, Mary Haven Youth Center, Waldorf Schools, Warren County Park District, Kettering Parks, Hamilton County and Hamilton Township Parks, Roads, Rivers and Trails, Loveland Paddlesports, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and many other supporting individuals.