Earth Angels is an organization begun by some of the members of the St. Marys Garden Club in 2013. It grew out of a love of plants and a recognition of their value to our lives. It was out of this love of gardening and an appreciation of all the Earth provides, that the seeds for engaging children in our community grew. We wanted each child to know and appreciate their role in maintaining a healthy Earth so it could, in turn, keep us healthy.
The pilot program was designed with the encouragement from our head of the Board of Education after conferring with the Elementary Curriculum Director of Camden County Schools. Because of the education background of the three original Earth Angels, we understood the need for our program to support the stringent guidelines that are necessary to meet today’s high educational standards.
It was decided to plant this program in the second grade classrooms in three of our nearby elementary schools. Chosen were St. Marys, Crooked River, and Mary Lee Clark elementary schools. All of the schools readily agreed to our proposal and have proven to be significant supporters. The following year we added Matilda Harris Elementary.
The Earth Angels utilize a multidisciplinary approach with the young students in sharing knowledge and experience. The methodical scientific approach to observing nature is emphasized throughout the curriculum. Art, music, and mathematical analysis of our observations are included in the hands-on experiences we use in teaching the fundamental concepts.
Four instructional units were designed for our first year. The first, Composting and Other Recycling Projects that Can Make a Difference, utilizes I Can Change the World. The second unit, The Value of Worms in Healthy Plant Growth is designed around another book, Wiggling Worms at Work. This is our way of introducing the connection between plant growth, animals and human involvement in a successful ecosystem. The Life Cycle of a Plant is the third unit. Members and friends of the St. Marys Garden Club saved seeds for this unit over several months to show the students where plants have their beginning and how, through their involvement, plants can be propagated from a variety of seeds found in their own yards and gardens. Some of our classes actually dissected whole green beans to find the seeds and sprouted limas to see the growth of an embryo from the seed. A fourth unit is built around Earth Day. This unit involves the use of recycled items in art. This is a project designed to demonstrate the value of “upcycling.”
In the 2016-17 school year, a fifth school is being served, Woodbine Elementary, and other curriculum alternatives are being offered to all of the schools. Utilizing the Wind to Produce Power and Smokey the Bear Prevents Wildfires expand the choices for our second grade teachers. In Wind Power, the students actually make small, individual wind turbines that produce power enough to lift a small cup of beans.
We estimate that we will share the love for our earth with 475 students in five schools this year and almost 1,500 students since the program began.