High school students participating in the Dartmouth Dragonfly Mercury Project — which engages high school students across the region to collect dragonfly larvae at national parks in the Upper Valley so they can be tested for mercury. (Courtesy photo.)

High school students participating in the Dartmouth Dragonfly Mercury Project — which engages high school students across the region to collect dragonfly larvae at national parks in the Upper Valley so they can be tested for mercury. (Courtesy photo.)

Nearly $300,000 in grants will support place-based ecology education

The Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation supports place-based ecology education in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is announcing $289,435 in grant awards from its Wellborn Ecology Fund. The grant dollars will provide support for place-based ecology education programs throughout New Hampshire and Vermont’s Upper Valley region. Since its inception in 2001, the Wellborn Fund has awarded grants totaling almost $6 million to more than 125 nonprofit organizations and programs throughout the Upper Valley.

These place-based ecology education programs provide opportunities for hands-on nature study, increase students’ knowledge of local ecosystems, build environmental stewards, and create connections between community members, schools and local organizations.

In addition to supporting local ecology programming, the Wellborn Ecology Fund made a $69,000 grant to support the work of the Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative (formerly the Wellborn Hub). The Collaborative is composed of leaders and content experts in place-based ecology education who work with educators and administrators, connecting them with the professional development resources they need to incorporate ecology education in their classrooms.

“The Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative’s mission is to help all Upper Valley schools get kids outside in a meaningful and consistent way, and to provide hands-on support and guidance for educators and administrators to make that  happen,” said Traci Fowler, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation senior program officer and manager of the Wellborn Ecology Fund. “We’ve seen that with targeted, accessible technical assistance, educators can connect students to the natural world right in their own backyards — whether they are teaching English, science or math.”

The Wellborn Ecology Fund was established at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation through a bequest by the late Marguerite Wellborn, who was a Hanover resident and avid naturalist with a passion for studying and protecting the natural world.

Grant awards were made to the following organizations and schools in the Upper Valley to support place-based ecology education:

Bradford Elementary School of Bradford, VT was awarded $3,500 to support the development of an outdoor classroom.

Center for Northern Woodlands Education of Lyme, NH was awarded $25,000 to provide continued support for The Outside Story, a weekly essay series published in area newspapers and magazines on natural-history topics.

County of Sullivan, NH was awarded $20,000 to provide continued place-based ecology education coordination, support and professional development opportunities to Sullivan County schools.

The Fells of Newbury, NH was awarded $5,000 to support accessibility of ecology exhibits and programs.

ForestKinder of Randolph Center, VT was awarded $5,000 to support the Outdoor Play & Learning Conference, a professional learning community for educators seeking to improve and expand outdoor play for young students, and for organizational capacity-building.

Four Winds Nature Institute Inc. of Chittenden, VT was awarded $30,000 to continue Upper Valley Linkages in Environmental Literacy, a professional development program for area teachers and educators; and to continue professional learning communities that help early childhood educators use the outdoors as a learning environment.

Linking Lands Alliance of White River Junction, VT was awarded $2,916 to help teachers incorporate maps and other educational resources into environmental education curricula that connects students directly to their local and regional landscapes.

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park of Woodstock, VT was awarded $49,000 to support the Wellborn Institute, a year-long professional development program for Upper Valley teachers to help them learn how to incorporate natural and community resources into school curricula; continue the Forest for Every Classroom professional development program in the Upper Valley; and targeted capacity-building and evaluation support for the Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative.

Montshire Museum of Science of Norwich, VT was awarded $10,000 to support engagement of economically disadvantaged children and families in museum programs and exhibits.

Mount Lebanon Elementary School of Lebanon, NH was awarded $4,450 to support development of an outdoor classroom for 2nd-grade students.

Piermont Village School of Piermont, NH was awarded $5,000 to support development of an outdoor classroom.

Springfield School District of Springfield, VT was awarded $3,500 to support an on-site compost system and associated curriculum at Riverside Middle School.

The Newton School of South Strafford, VT was awarded $1,000 to purchase gear for weekly K-4 outdoor education programming.

Thetford Academy of Thetford, VT was awarded $3,500 to support an outdoor classroom.

Trustees of Dartmouth College of Hanover, NH was awarded $5,000 to support the Dartmouth Dragonfly Mercury Project, which engages high school students across the region to collect dragonfly larvae at national parks in the Upper Valley so they can be tested for mercury.

Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative (formerly the Wellborn Hub), through its fiscal sponsor, Vital Communities, was awarded $69,000 for place-based ecology education coordination in the Upper Valley, including staffing, outreach, web and communications resources and the annual Leadership Conference for educators and administrators.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) of Quechee, VT was awarded $20,000 for continued delivery of VINS School Programs in the Upper Valley through its Center for Environmental Education.

Vital Communities of White River Junction, VT was awarded $20,000 to continue farm-to-school programming in the Upper Valley region for the 2019-2020 school year.

White River Partnership of South Royalton, VT was awarded $5,000 to engage 18 Upper Valley schools in the Monitoring the White River program.

Woodstock Union High School of Woodstock, VT was awarded $2,569 to support implementation of a place-based watershed education curriculum.

For more information about the Wellborn Ecology Fund, visit www.nhcf.org/wellborn or contact Traci Fowler at tf@nhcf.org.