Green Works ECOS Urban Outdoor Nature Discovery Staff had a full summer working with some of our partner organizations.

We teamed up with Operation Breakthrough to bring outdoor learning to the 4th grade summer school class on Fridays. The students were champions, venturing out in sweltering heat to observe pollinators in the Center City neighborhood’s community garden and bioswale, and exploring trees in Troost Park. They were beyond excited to learn about the minerals that compose many common objects or their essential parts, and took their understanding to a new level when they “mined” chocolate chips out of cookies, learning about trade-offs between production and environmental impact. For an exciting finish, the youth attempted to “reclaim” the land by putting their broken cookies back together with frosting.

The Linwood YMCA, where we teach in the after school Launch Pad program, held a Science Technology Engineering Art and Math (STEAM) camp this summer. When the Y asked us to arrange some outdoor adventures for the end of each week of camp, we got busy. Our friends at the Heartland Conservation Alliance help us connect to a Jackson County Parks program for urban youth, that treated the youth to a free day at the Longview Lake beach. The youth started out the day by dividing into two teams, being handed instruction manuals, and building foldable kayaks into sea worthy vessels, then taking them for a spin on the lake. It was the first time in a kayak for most students, and Y staff. Our friends at the Blue River Watershed Association brought a Brush Creek water testing session to the students in week 2, when weather caused cancellation of another beach day. 

The Museum at Prairie Fire and the Kansas City Writing Project asked us to help them put together an Environmental Justice panel for a collaborative Environmental Justice Writing Workshop they held for local youth at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center this summer. We made recommendations for the panel from our community contacts and participated ourselves. We spoke to the rationale and significance of our ECOS programming that gives youth repeated experiences in the outdoors, and how equitable access to nature is an environmental justice issue. 

The Kauffman School asked us to plan an environmental field day for their three week student leadership camp. We teamed up with the Heartland Conservation Alliance and the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association to plan a day where the students walked the neighborhood, stopping at various points to learn about neighborhood projects and leadership.  The students learned about all of the elements of a healthy neighborhood and how essential leadership qualities help both neighborhood leaders and urban planning professionals lead successful projects like community gardens, pollinator gardens, infill housing, park development, crime prevention, and community building. All-in-all, it was a fun, productive summer for the ECOS team!