Engaging Students in Environmental Service Project


About the Project

The Engaging Students in Environmental Service Project is an effort to integrate service-learning activities into environmental science instruction in the elementary and middle school years.

The work follows from growing efforts in the last decade to enhance children’s social and emotional skills in schools. Our goal is to take work on school-based social and emotional skills one step further by providing students with opportunities to apply their social and behavioral competencies to authentic problems in the community. In doing so, we strive to identify practices that teachers can use in their classrooms that teach academic content and contribute to students’ civic engagement.


The Funding

This work was funded by the DuBarry Foundation.


The Research

This project has several components, the largest of which involved implementing and evaluating an Environmental Service Learning Project with eighth-grade students at a local school in 2013. The project team applied techniques from KIDS Consortium to engage a group of eighth-graders in a service-learning project to assess needs at a riparian buffer and intervene to reduce erosion problems.

Through a mixed-methods study, 18 eighth-grade students participated in a service-learning program that was designed and implemented to foster environmental literacy development. Through the service-learning project, students gained knowledge about ecology, showed a sense of responsibility for the environment, and felt a sense of empowerment about their work in nature. Students who participated in this program also reported strong connections to nature after the conclusion of the program. For more information, see Merritt, Rates, Greiner, Baroody & Rimm-Kaufman (2017).