(VISALIA, CA) - SRT's EARTH Academy has returned with gusto for the 2022-2023 school year. SRT Education Department staff have recruited the largest cohort of students yet with more than 60 students joining the program for the current school year.
The innovative SRT program (whose E.A.R.T.H. acronym represents Ecosystems, Agriculture, Research, Trout in the Classroom, and Horticulture) is a 10-month long project-based learning internship program for Tulare County high school students. In each year of the five-year-old program, SRT has partnered with local school districts to provide NGSS-aligned curriculum to students both in the classroom and in the field.
This year, SRT is partnering once again with Monache High School (Porterville Unified School District), Mission Oak High School (Tulare Joint Union High School District), Woodlake High School (Woodlake Unified School District), and Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center (chartered by the Tulare County Office of Education).
SRT held an Oct. 8 program orientation at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, during which students worked together and used critical thinking skills to problem-solve, learned about local natural and human history, learned about local plants and wildlife during a birding-focused nature hike, and tuned into their creative selves during an immersive nature journaling activity. “Students had a blast learning about the program, our lands, and each other during the daylong event,” said SRT Education Technician Sneha Kumar, who has been with the program since its inception.
By Halloween, students had completed the program’s first module, learning about animal group behavior and aiding species survival in the wild. “They also learned about how group behavior is modeled in the field during a field trip to Kaweah Oaks Preserve, and how patterns in nature can be applied to our personal lives as well as our broader societies,” Kumar said. Students also had the opportunity to view old and new area maps to learn more about changes over the past 50 years and beyond. By year-end, students will complete Modules 2 and 3 which focus on the carbon cycle, soil carbon, and rangeland management. These will culminate in December field trips to SRT's Herbert Wetlands Prairie Preserve located between Tulare and Lindsay.
EARTH Academy students will also help lead SRT’s annual Soil Health symposium at Kaweah Oaks in late January. Watch for more details for this public event whose teaching will benefit ranchers, land managers, students, and a variety of others.