Monday, October 15, 2007

The Environment: Blog Action Day

One of the focuses of this blog is to share environmental science and advocacy with the Black Blogosphere. Though environmentalism is at least being broached more often and with more open minds than before, it is still an issue that is not being attended to.

So, in support of Blog Action Day, I will blog about the environment and the African-American community.

I supervise a team of inner-city 'volunteers' (read urban, Black) who are learning about careers in natural resources. They complete service work related to land and wild life management as well as assist with teaching environmental education lessons to inner-city public school youth.

Most of have only acheived a high school diploma or GED as their highest education level (some not even that); so, often what they understand about the environment ise inaccurate or incomplete. For some of them, their experiences and knowledge of this subject is minimal at best. They each have their own opinions and feelings about nature (here I am speaking very broadly about the outdoors, the environment, environmental science, and conservation). Related to this matter is that they may not yet have formed a personal opinion about conservation and environmental stewardship. For example, participants from previous years can tell you all about recycling and the benefits, but none of them recycle. Or they spend most of their service time removing litter from public places, but they litter and throw trash in the streets. I challenge them and ask why. The answer I receive is - I don't litter where I have to pick up trash OR I'm keeping someone else employed.

No doubt, this presents some great challenges to the objective of preparing them to share environmental education learning activities. For one, they simply lack the knowledge and skills to do teach these lessons. They aren't education majors or science majors; and they have no personal experiences to borrow from. Two, delivering environmental education lessons, isn’t as simple as reading an essay or learning a script and repeating it to others. A quality environmental education, like any other science learning program (even an informal one) is not about memory and regurgitation. Three, as of now their motivations are varied and quite frankly their opinions on environmental issues are still developing.

Though I might be oversimplifying, they don’t yet fully understand conservation or environmental science, let alone the nuances that surround each subject. They must be willing to unlearn what they think to be true and learn something new or potentially conflicting. And it takes time (and patience) to unlearn and learn all this information about nature. So, my purpose is to work them and to continue to share science (specifically environmental science) with them and the rest of the Black Blog-o-Sphere.



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