Place-based education:Vignettes(Part 1/5)

New Hampshire Forest for Every Classroom

A Forest for Every Classroom (FFEC) is a year-long professional development series for middle and high school educators, aimed at providing the inspiration, knowledge and skills required to transform classroom teaching into effective and exciting place-based education. Teachers develop their own units to increase student literacy skills and foster student understanding of -- and appreciation for -- the forested lands in their communities. These units integrate hands-on study of the natural and cultural resources of the local community, addressing concepts in ecology, sense of place, civics, and forest land management and stewardship. At the heart of FFEC is the belief that students who are immersed in the study of their own "place" are more eager to learn about and be involved in the stewardship of their communities and public lands. Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in science, mathematics, social studies and other subjects across the curriculum. This approach is proven to increase academic achievement while helping students develop stronger ties to their community, build appreciation for the natural world and a heightened commitment to becoming active citizens. The FFEC program provides 11 days of professional development over the course of four seasons, including a five-day residential summer session. Most sessions are based at the world-class Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in central NH. NH FFEC is cosponsored by NH Project Learning Tree, the Forest Service's State and Private Forestry, Northeastern Area, Northern Research Station, and the White Mountain National Forest.

Montana's Forest for Every Classroom 

Helena, Montana

A Place-Based Professional Development Workshop Series.

"Public lands have tremendous potential to contribute to education and quality of life in our communities. If we can get young people thinking about not only the future of their parks and forests but also the future of their local communities, that's the beginning of lifelong learning, and it is also cultivating stewardship." -Nora Mitchell, Director, Conservation Study Institute.

A Common Vision

Today's students will become responsible citizens if they understand the places in which they live, and if they have educational opportunities based on real life issues that encourage them to be stewards of their own communities. Inspired by a common vision of students learning from and caring for public lands, the Helena National Forest, Montana Discovery Foundation, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the Elkhorns Working Group have joined efforts to create A Forest for Every Classroom (FFEC). FFEC is a professional development program for educators focused on place-based education. Teachers who participate in FFEC develop curriculum that foster student understanding of and appreciation for the public lands in their communities. The teacher-developed curricula integate hands-on natural and cultural exlplorations that address concepts in ecology, sense of place, stewards, and civics. At the heart of the FFEC program is the belief that students who are immersed in the interdisciplinary study of place are more eager to learn and be involved in the stewardhip of their communities and public lands.

Students discover link between high asthma rates and illegal burning

Wilson Creek High School

Wilson Creek, WA

In conjunction with the Youth Network for Healthy Communities, high school students researched the cause of high asthma rates in this small, rural community.

Students use lichens to monitor pollution

Shelton High School

Shelton, WA

As part of the grade 11–12 "Ecology of the Northwest" course, students conducted a study of lichens in the region, comparing the diversity and health of lichens by a road side with those deeper into the woods.

Students discover link between wood burning and poor air quality

Darrington High School

Darrington, WA

High school science club students teamed up with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to monitor local air quality. Two students utilized computer generated data to monitor the site, and through the analysis process identified a correlation between wood burning and air pollution in the region. Students outlined the issue using informative PowerPoint slideshows that they presented to high school classes and local community groups. They went on to present their findings at the 2006 EPA air quality conference in San Antonio, TX.

VT FEED: Cycles of Life in Starksboro

Robinson Elementary

Starksboro, Vermont

Life cycles in the community become the framework for a first grade class in Starksboro, Vermont. Students investigate the life cycle of a monarch butterfly, and compare the caterpillar and the butterfly.

VT FEED: Grains: Grow, Process, Utilize

Hardwick Elementary

Hardwick, Vermont

How do grains of wheat, rye, corn, oats and rice nourish us? How do you grind flour and use it to bake bread? How did the Abenaki people who were indigenous to Hardwick, Vermont use the grains they grew? How do grains fit into a healthy diet? To answer these questions, first grade students visited a nearby farm to see how grain was grown, ground their own corn and make "hoe" cakes, and learned about life cycles of local farms and woodlands. Students presented food and recipes to their families as a culminating activity. For a full description of this curriculum and to learn more about Vermont FEED go to

VT FEED: Alburg's Bread and Butter

Alburg Elementary School

Alburg, Vermont

Alburg, Vermont is a rural town in the Lake Champlain islands. Thanks to Vermont FEED, an innovative farm to school education program, parent volunteers, and a staff of talented teachers, the school has a rich farm-based educational curriculum. Kindergarten students spend part of their first year of school learning about their local community and how to make healthy food choices. The class visits a dairy farm, makes cheese, grinds wheat berries, and helps a local bakery make bread and letter pizzas. The students wrote cookbooks and involved their families in their eating adventures. They wrote a culminating play with songs, invited their families and served healthy student made foods. For a full outline of this curriculum, and other by VT FEED educators, go to (Source:

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