Workshop at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve teaches educators about local resources
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve teamed up with several environmental organizations to provide a program for teachers to gain valuable hands-on experiences with local resources.
“We got a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help teachers incorporate the Great Lakes into their curriculum,” said Brittany DiLeo, Reinstein Woods’ Great Lakes educator. “We tried to connect teachers who usually focus on national curricula or national standards to try to use activities that focus more on the local issues and connect our students to those local issues.”
Twenty-two teachers ranging from pre-K to high school levels attended the five-day workshop to learn about the background of the Great Lakes and new activities they could teach in class. DiLeo said the group spent each day at a different area of the Buffalo River.
“We followed the Buffalo River from where it starts at Beaver Meadow Nature Preserve in North Java, all the way out to where it flows into Lake Erie,” DiLeo said.
During this program, the teachers hiked through the wetlands, discussed different local ecosystems, and took water samples from the river.
“We did water sampling. We scooped macroinvertabrates out of the water, which can be used to determine the quality and the health of the water,” DiLeo said.
The group also learned about the river’s role in Buffalo’s past according to DiLeo.
“We focused on the industrial history of Buffalo and how that was centered on the Buffalo River, how the river played an important part in Buffalo’s past and how it’s being restored,” DiLeo said.
The participants visited restoration sites such as Seneca Bluffs Habitat Restoration Site in south Buffalo. They also visited Reinstein Woods and spent a day on the Spirit of Buffalo, a boat that provides students with educational programs about the local environment.
Guest speakers from the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York State Sea Grant covered different environmental topics over the week.
Teachers who attended the workshop received free books and maps as well as new activities to bring back to their classrooms for the new school year, DiLeo said.