The mission of the Kids in Nature Environmental Education program is to promote the aspirations and achievements of students in underserved schools by providing quality environmental science education.
To achieve this goal, we recruit and train undergraduates for careers in K-12 science education, provide professional development opportunities for teachers who have inadequate undergraduate preparation in science and who lack the resources for teaching science content in the classroom, and for both students and teachers, we create and encourage personal connections to the natural world, which will foster an interest in becoming stewards of the environment.
While many programs are designed to offer educational experiences for several hours or for one day, the KIN program provides each classroom with a total of ten educational activities offered with our partners, Coal Oil Point Reserve, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Arroyo Hondo Preserve. The fifth grade students work closely with the KIN staff and UCSB students enrolled in EEMB189/ES191 in an outdoor setting and gain firsthand experience with the concepts they learn in class for an in-depth and sustained educational experience. KIN curriculum emphasizes hands-on, placed based activities in outdoor environments and also includes classroom visits where UCSB students mentor and assist with the fifth grade student work and activities in the established native plant gardens on the elementary school campuses.
During the yearlong program, we estimate that each KIN student experiences approximately 100 hours of small group education. KIN has a significant impact on the students’ understanding, involvement in, and awareness of environmental issues through engaging and challenging activities and positive interactions with scientists, graduate and undergraduate students both in class and in the field. KIN students spend a significant amount of time on the UCSB campus, which helps to demystify the university and provides the students with opportunities to learn about programs and the campus environment. Each 5th grade student receives a Kids in Nature Science Notebook and Nature Journal, which contains additional information and activities to accompany each fieldtrip. There is also a teacher version of the journal available, which includes the Next Generation Science Standards that correspond with each chapter.