Two faculty members from School of Kinesiology, Leisure and Sports at WKU, Dr. Allie McCreary (Administration of Recreation, Parks and Nonprofits) and Dr. Jean Chen (Physical education) recently received a Quick Turn-Around grant from the College of Health and Human Services to study the impact of environmental education on connecting homeschool students to nature. A growing body of research supports the idea that time spent in nature, whether active or passive, can provide many benefits, such as reduced stress, improved physical health, improved social skills and a deeper connection and appreciation of nature. natural world. Much of this existing research is conducted in summer camps or traditional public schools. Drs. McCreary and Chen aim to explore the impacts of outdoor education and physical activity on homeschool students’ environmental perceptions, knowledge of environmental science concepts, and their connection to the nature. With College funding, four WKU students: Andre Pate (Recreation and Sports Administration graduate student), Lindsey Moore (Recreation and Sports Administration graduate student), Farrah Castleman (Sophomore Physical Education ) and MJ Moles (a sophomore in Recreation, Park, and Nonprofit Administration) worked with McCreary and Chen to develop a series of ten environmental education programs. WKU faculty and students deliver these programs through weekly sessions with area home students focusing on topics such as forestry, gardening, mammal study, birds and the weather. A before/after survey design will allow the WKU team to understand how the programs influence various aspects of homeschooling students’ knowledge and opinions about the environment.
Environmental education sessions are held at WKU McChesney Field Campus, a 137-acre property northeast of Bowling Green located along the Green River. The site includes trails, geological features and indoor/outdoor classroom space. The property was donated to the university by the McChesney family who envisioned the space to become an extension of the university and create opportunities to learn and protect the land.
WKU students discuss “Leave No Trace,” low-impact camping practices with area homeschoolers.