University of Idaho Freshmen Teach 2nd Graders to "Read" the Local Landscape

Wednesday, September 30 2009

Written by Alecia Hoene

MOSCOW, Idaho – They say you don’t really know a subject until you have taught it to someone else. On Friday, Oct. 2, University of Idaho students will have an opportunity to learn through teaching.

As part of the service-learning component of the university's CORE program, 20 student volunteers from CORE 125 "Earth and Our Place on It" will guide 62 second graders from Franklin Elementary School in Pullman, Wash., through an environmental education lesson that includes a treasure hunt for local plants and animals. The team selected an 8-acre site at Koppel Farm as the venue for a series of activities designed to familiarize the children with their natural surroundings.

The collaboration with Franklin Elementary will allow the University of Idaho freshmen to apply their newfound environmental literacy to a service-learning project, a tenet of the CORE 125 course. Using the broad lenses of science, culture, politics and economics, the course helps students better understand human impacts on the earth and the role of sustainability as a system that addresses the triple bottom line – meeting current and long-term environmental, economic and ethical challenges effectively.

The freshmen, in turn, will use what they have learned about local ecology to lead second graders through place-based education, a central concept in fostering environmental literacy in young children. Following the lesson, Franklin Elementary teachers will continue to use the local landscape as an integrating context for the study of science, mathematics, social studies, language arts and other subjects across the curriculum.

The collaboration was organized by CORE 125 co-instructors Darin Saul, University of Idaho Sustainability coordinator and director of the University of Idaho Sustainability Center, and Chris Dixon, adviser for the university's Environmental Science Program, together with Franklin Elementary School second grade teachers Jennifer Cowgill, Sue Schell and Marci Sontgerath. For more information, contact Darin Saul at (208) 885-0124 or Chris Dixon at (208) 885-6113.

As increasing environmental awareness drives interest in sustainable practices, the University of Idaho continues to seek carbon reduction initiatives to meet the current and future needs of society and to contribute to the quality of life and the natural resources in Idaho, the nation and the world. The University of Idaho emitted some 38,981 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2007, which is equal to 3.59 tons per student. The university has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and has begun the work to reduce carbon emissions across operations. For more information about the university’s sustainability efforts, contact the University of Idaho Sustainability Center at or visit  
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit  

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit