Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Rachel Carson Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Rachel Carson Award—Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):

The Rachel Carson Award recognizes programs, individuals or organizations whose exemplary leadership and efforts guide the nurturing of young children’s inborn sense of wonder about the natural world.

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Chief facilities executive Mark Hovatter of LAUSD plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

LAUSD is taking a national leadership role in making meaningful connections with nature part of the daily lives of the children it serves. Through the creation of Nature Explore Classrooms at these centers, asphalt playground areas are converted into nature-based learning environments. The projects enable children to connect with the natural world as a regular part of their healthy growth and development.

The Classrooms feature learning stations with hands-on activities, music, climbing and crawling, building, art, and gardening.

The impact of the experience is evident in the first classroom that was completed three years ago. Children are calmer and more focused on learning, have fewer injuries and improved problem-solving skills.

The district has committed to develop 11 Early Education Center Nature Explore Classrooms in areas that lack parks and green space. Three Nature Explore Classrooms are in operation, eight are currently in design, and many more are planned for the future.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

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