In around 500 BC, a Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said “change is the only constant in life.” More than 2500 years later, people around the world are painfully aware of the truth of his statement. As we adjust to the world with the “novel” corona virus, educators are scrambling to find new ways to reach and teach students of all ages. Many of us have had to learn how to use new computer programs and adjust to working from home. The home office often falls short of the office technology and work IT departments can’t resolve problems with personal internet service providers. Parents have become teachers; homeschooling is mandated until it is safe to send children back to school. There is a fear that the gap between students of different zip codes will widen based on availability of internet access, parental supervision and even food. Some of our most essential workers are at the low end of the wage scale and they can’t supervise home learning.
But change can be good. It’s not easy for an agency that specializes in hands on learning to adapt to a virtual environment. Despite the hurdles, we are committed to providing education to teachers, students and residents of Cuyahoga County in the safest way possible. Some education events have been cancelled or postponed while others have been adapted to adjust to our current reality. In the process we are learning new skills and expanding our ability to deliver important programs.
Envirothon is a high school environmental science competition. Normally, each of the 5 soil and water district areas of the state hold a regional competition in late April but that also had to be cancelled as it became apparent that bringing together students from different counties would not be safe even if the schools reopened in time. The Ohio Envirothon committee used the time to brainstorm a way for all interested teams in Ohio to participate – giving students (including graduating seniors) a chance to work virtually as a team. Congratulations to the “Cats in Suits”, the Brecksville Broadview Heights High School Envirothon team! The BBHHS Bees finished first in the first round of the annual Ohio Environmental Science competition. This round consisted of 20 questions in each of the natural resource topics (aquatics, soil, wildlife, forestry, and a current environmental issue). Daniel Reynolds is the team advisor and the team members are Austin Vollweiter, Timothy Wilczewski, Anthony Petros, Mira Vandelinden and Jasper Jones. Cuyahoga County had a second team, Bedford High School, in the competition. The next round will involve virtual presentations by the top 6 teams in June. Unfortunately, the international Envirothon has been cancelled but the money raised for state Envirothon will be used to provide nice gifts for the top three overall state winners. Good Luck BBHHS!
Already in the works to move to a digital format, our poster contest was a great success. These students displayed their knowledge of the importance of pollinators in our 2020 poster contest. Congratulations to the following District winners. 1st place winners will advance to the state competition. Grades 2-3: Ayden from Ms. Holyk's class at CMSD Charles Mooney, Grades 4-6: Donovan from Ms. Severson's class at Ruffing Montessori School, Grades 7-9: Gianna from Mr. Lubin's Class at Mayfield Middle School and Grades 10-12: Emeraude from Ms. Brown's class at CMSD John Marshall School of Engineering. Honorable mention to Simon from Ruffing Montessori. Each poster included the 2020 stewardship theme: Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?
We’re taking advantage of this time of social distancing to try online delivery of teacher workshops that certify educators in Project WET, Project Learning Tree and Climate Science. As we transition our summer teacher workshop to an online format we will add content for Green Schools, Project Wild and Wonders of Wetlands.
We’ve rolled out online pledges to encourage individual behaviors that benefit the environment. Pledges to pick up after pets, pick up litter and ways for everyone to recognize and report trees that need help.
In the interest of safety, Camp Canopy 2020 was cancelled but fortunately none of the scholarship applicants were seniors so the money will still be available in 2021.
I hope we will come out of this crisis with a better appreciation for what things are really important. The things we miss the most should be the highest on our priority lists in the future. I know I’ll appreciate interacting face to face with the public as soon as it is safe!
Blog Author: Jacki Zevenbergen, Stormwater Education Program Manager