The Edge of Appalachia Preserve System has been conducting outdoor Field Classes for the youth of Adams County for over 25 years and corresponding in-class programming for over 20 years.
Currently, all 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders in the Ohio Valley and Manchester School Districts visit the preserve in either the spring or the fall for a day-long, hands-on field class. Led by a professional naturalist, classes are designed to meet current state academic standards and compliment classroom lessons. Topics can include, but are not limited to: geology, food webs, plant/animal identification, energy transfer, habitat exploration, biotic and abiotic factors, fossils, the scientific method, and the use of dichotomous keys.
This past fall, 4th and 5th grade students performed a science experiment to find out what color flower native bees preferred, explored rare habitats, searched for crayfish in a creek, used dichotomous keys to identify insect orders and crayfish species, and learned how to conduct a random survey for life in the forest leaf litter. During the spring environmental ed. season, 6th graders explored the geology and soils of Adams County and investigated the differences in plant and animal communities between different rock layers. Seventh graders embarked on a journey to learn about lichens. Working in the lab and field, they were introduced to many different kinds of lichens and saw how other animals and plants depend on them.
In class programming takes place during the winter months and currently includes grades 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. In-class sessions, like the field classes are planned to meet state standards and classroom lessons. Topics include classification, Ordovician fossils, animal bioacoustics, land snails, and lichens.
All the environmental education programming provided by the Edge allows students to discover the amazing diversity that makes Adams County such an amazing place. It engages students in science, scientific thought, and encourages curiosity about the natural world. In an era of electronic distractions, environmental education is critical, even for rural students.