Searching for salamanders and floating foam kayaks down a creek may sound more like playtime than school time, but UTC students enrolled in Dr. Andrew Bailey’s Outdoor Leadership Class offered local school children a connection between humans and the natural environment.
As part of their coursework, Bailey’s class researched, planned, and delivered environmental education lessons at Red Bank Elementary and Skyukah Hall. Students planned lessons on erosion, pollution, hydrology, and more.
“In my classes, I try to teach as many of the skills students will need to have after they graduate. For their future careers, they will need to have experience leading outdoor trips and teaching science,” Bailey, UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance, said.
This was Bailey’s first year partnering with Red Bank Elementary for a night of science education with students and their parents at Mountain Creek.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be successful or not, but you have to be willing to try things out. If nobody’s willing to take a risk, then we just have kids sitting in a room all day not experiencing what the outdoors can offer them,” he said.
So, how did Bailey and his students feel after spend a couple of hours getting wet and muddy?
“I think it went really well. My students put a lot of work into their lessons and the kids were excited and passionate to learn about the natural environment. I think we achieved our goal of helping the kids learn more about the outdoors and they made the connection that their daily behavior affects the health of natural water systems,” Bailey said.