Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011-09-18 "Buses provided for local students’ eco-friendly field trips" by ISABELLE DILLS from "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
A new grant program is giving Napa County public and private school teachers a chance to take their students on environmental field trips by paying for the buses.  
The program was started by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County, with the goal of promoting environmental protection and stewardship among kindergartners through 12th-graders. The Environmental Education Coalition is the host group of a number of local organizations that promote sustainable living and connect residents with the environment.
“Most teachers want to do interesting things to connect students with Napa County’s amazing natural resources, but field trips are so expensive,” said Frances Knapczyk, who chairs the Environmental Education Coalition.
Depending on the distance traveled, a bus can cost up to $700 for a field trip, Knapczyk said.
“We didn’t want that to be a limiting factor,” she said.
Christie Jouaneh, a teacher at New Technology High School, was recently awarded a $381 bus grant to take the entire freshman class — about 100 students — to the Napa River Ecological Reserve in Yountville next week. The grant will provide money for two buses.
Jouaneh teaches a biology, physical education and health class with Tom Wolf. Wolf was also awarded a grant for $630 to take the freshmen to Lake Berryessa in October.
The field trips are part of an ongoing study of oak tree reproduction, Jouaneh said. During the trips, students will hike, identify native plants and trees and collect acorns for planting in the spring, she said.
“We’re hoping they’ll have a deeper understanding of how humans interact with and rely on the environment,” Jouaneh said.
Jouaneh said the high school has no funding for field trips, and she and Wolf “depend heavily on outside grants.”
“It’s essential to get the kids outdoors to have a variety of experiences,” she said.
Since the beginning of the school year, the Environmental Education Coalition has given out $1,600 in grant money for five field trips, said Darcy Aston, a coalition member. About $3,400 in available grant money remains, she said.
The coalition raised funds for the bus grant program through its annual Earth Day event in April. Aston said they hope to raise even more money next year.

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