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Schoolyard Ecology Program Reaches 20 Year Milestone

February 20, 2024
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Image shows a collage of photographs showing educators and students in the field.

Through the support of the Long-Term Ecological Research Program and generous anonymous donors, 2024 marks the 20th year of the Schoolyard Ecology program at Harvard Forest. For two decades the ecologists at Harvard Forest (John O'Keefe, Dave Orwig, Emery Boose, and Betsy Colburn) have worked with Pamela Snow, and now Katharine Hinkle to train and support teachers and classrooms all over New England (and now Georgia!) in data collection and data visualization. Our citizen science projects put students in the driver's seat by giving them authentic questions to answer and providing them with an opportunity to learn science by doing science. Our publicly accessible database of student collected observations now includes 54,082 entries representing the work of thousands of students getting outside and connecting with their local environment. 

Our long-term relationships with our teachers is the heart of our work, and it is through them that we have had our largest successes as they have innovated the curriculum and kept the projects going year in and year out. We currently have 88 active teachers in our program. 17% of them have been contributing data for 5 or more years. 14% of them have been contributing data for 10 years or more, and two of them have been with us for over 15 years. 

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