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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Environmental education program launches in Davis

O24U, an environment education program for elementary age students, launched earlier this month expanding volunteer opportunities to residents of Davis.

The program is seeking people who already work in childcare. High school and college students are trained on how to use hands-on, interactive activities to teach elementary school students about the environment and the effects of pollution.

Breathe California, a Sacramento-based non-profit organization advocating for clean air, healthy lungs and a tobacco-free future created O24U. One aspect of Breathe California is a youth advisory board consisting of students from high school up to age 21. Adrienne Ng, a first-year biological-science major, is currently the president of the board.

“It is our job as citizens to preserve the Earth for our future and for our children’s future,” Ng said in an e-mail. ” If we do not accept this responsibility, no one else will.”

Similar programs exist on campus.

The John Muir Institute of the Environment provides educational programs on the environment to school-aged children through the WaterWays and Nature Club programs.

Taking place in classrooms, field trip sites and neighborhood creeks and gardens, the interactive programs introduce youth to science and environmental stewardship, while offering an opportunity for undergraduates to gain experience and internship units as program volunteers.

Jasmine Nasser, a junior community and regional development major and education minor, has been a participant in the WaterWays program since last winter.

“Even though I was interested in teaching, I had never really considered science to be an option,” Nasser said. “I decided to do the program for the internship units and realized how fun it can be to teach science to elementary-age kids. Now I would definitely consider being a science teacher in the future.”

In order to become a volunteer, participants must enroll in a science education outreach program class where they will learn science education and outreach methods while simultaneously assisting program staff with interactive youth programs. Students interested in enrolling in the class, which is part of the education department, can email meharns@ucdavis.edu for more information.

For the internship portion of the program, the environmental topic and age range may vary. Nasser gives her students lessons on the water cycle, followed by hikes or trips to Lake Solano to collect and observe insects.

Both Nasser and Ng said they feel good about the steps being made toward environmental health.

“I am only one person,” Ng said. “But I feel that I have already made a difference.”

MELISSA FREEMAN can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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