2015-04-09 / Nature

Pell School Students Help Environment

By Jack Kelly

Pell third graders braved the elements at Easton's Beach to help combat erosion. (Photos by Matthew Vieira) Pell third graders braved the elements at Easton's Beach to help combat erosion. (Photos by Matthew Vieira) Third grade students at Pell Elementary School recently assisted Save The Bay staff, volunteers, and Newport city workers in planting dune grasses at Easton’s Beach, as part of a larger effort by the city and Save The Bay to help stop beach erosion and create protective dunes.

According to Pell third grade teacher Jennifer Hole, “We began working with Save The Bay in the spring of 2012. Our students did a planting and habitat project at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, our hard work was washed away by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We started the dune restoration at Easton’s Beach in April 2013, as part of the Sandy restoration program, and we have been doing it ever since.”

Hole also received a $7,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation to fund a project, affecting 140 students in seven classes, to bring Save The Bay education specialists and instructors into the third grade classrooms at Pell. “During this past March they delivered hands-on lessons that were relevant to the curriculum as well as our community. These sessions followed our science and social studies curriculum,” Hole said. The funding also allowed the students to visit Save The Bay’s Exploration Center to examine the marine life that is indigenous to Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island’s coastal waters. “It’s an incredible experience for many of our students who don’t have access, for whatever reason, to the beautiful natural resources of our community,” Hole explained.

Pell Students dig in to plant seagrass. Pell Students dig in to plant seagrass. Hole was quick to mention the contributions of the other third grade teachers at Pell, including Jeannine Walsh, Kathleen Breede, Michael Ela, Audrey Boisvert, Claire Mey, and Terry Mey, who are dedicated to the project. The teachers believe that these programs have a positive influence on the students and lead to increased awareness of issues affecting the bay, a greater interest in nature, and spur curiosity about a variety of environmental topics. Hole addressed these points in her grant proposal. “Teachers perceived these impacts to students: increased interest in science, improved sense of environmental responsibility, exposure to new career opportunities, and students better prepared for state testing.”

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