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'GREENfoot' Takes On Climate Change in Syracuse

Audubon New York, National Grid Foundation support project

At a time when climate change is the subject of increasing attention, Audubon New York and the National Grid Foundation have recognized the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) as one of the best educational institutions to receive a contribution of the new "Project GREENfoot" curriculum guide.

The curriculum was designed by the Montezuma Audubon Center and was presented to members of the ESF Science Corps on their campus today (Nov. 11, 2009) in the recently rehabilitated Baker Laboratory. The "Project GREENfoot" program is focused on addressing how climate change impacts humans, birds, and other wildlife and what high school students can do to reduce their carbon footprints. The program addresses opportunities for urban and suburban students to make a big difference in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.

"With the National Grid Foundation's support, Audubon New York is thrilled to be providing SUNY-ESF with this innovative and important new educational curriculum designed to reach urban youth in Syracuse," said Albert E. Caccese, executive director of Audubon New York. "As global warming is a leading threat to humans, birds and other wildlife, 'Project GREENfoot' has great potential to educate young adults on the importance of acting quickly to reduce our use of carbon, and inspire the next generation of conservationists to solve this global threat."

"ESF is pleased to see this program take shape," said Dr. Chuck Spuches, associate dean for outreach and instructional quality at the college. "This collaboration enriches ESF's ability to deliver strong environmental content to young adults and provides another means for the college to help educate the environmental leaders of tomorrow. We look forward to integrating 'Project GREENfoot' learning resources into ongoing ESF Science Corps activities for youth in Syracuse, Central New York and beyond."

"The National Grid Foundation is proud to be supporting this innovative, new program," said Bob Keller, executive director for the National Grid Foundation. "The program will help students gain a deeper understanding of the impact of their choices and the ways in which they can become life long stewards of their own environment."

Designed for high school students, the "Project GREENfoot" teaching guide consists of five core lessons that are designed to meet New York State's Learning Performance Standards and presents schools with the opportunity to engage in third-party certification of proposed plans that meet criteria set forth by Audubon New York. The lessons are focused on providing sound scientific information on climate change, its impact on people and wildlife and ways in which people can reduce these impacts. As part of the lessons, students will work in groups on projects of their choosing from the following categories:

  • Reduction of existing energy consumption (non-vehicle)
  • Renewable energy system development/implementation
  • Reduction, reuse and recycling of materials
  • Reduction in fossil fuel-based vehicle use
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Increase of school/community awareness of how reducing one's carbon footprint can combat the negative impacts of climate change through educating, motivating and activating a targeted audience

Each of the five core lessons incorporates hands-on learning that meshes high school curricula with activity-based "flow learning" designed by education specialist Joseph Cornell. They are each the length of a high school class period and can be incorporated into New York's Living Environment, Earth Science, or an Environmental Studies elective. This learn-by-doing approach is most effective for concept retention and stewardship installation. Schools in the Syracuse area interested in participating in this new program should contact Montezuma Audubon Center Director Frank Moses at 315-365-3580 or at fmoses@audubon.org.

Audubon New York, the 50,000-member state program of the National Audubon Society, is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitats that support them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

The ESF Science Corps supports campus-based, in-school, workplace and field-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning and professional development. Sustainability-focused activities are targeted toward middle and high school students and teachers. Established initially through a National Science Foundation grant, ESF undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and community volunteers make up the Science Corps. Activities increase the environmental knowledge and science literacy of today's middle school and high school students to produce citizens who will be able to make informed decisions regarding the environment.

The National Grid Foundation was created to enhance the quality of life in areas where National Grid provides services. The Foundation's ongoing challenge is to create opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues. Its objective is based on the principle that giving people the tools to build hope is an essential ingredient in the development of individuals, families and communities. Since its inception in December 1998, the Foundation has provided more than $15 million in grants to hundreds of organizations.