Rockford Izaak Walton League

ERMS magnet leading Rockford into greener days

February 24, 2011 // 0 Comments

Environmentally friendly education leaves the schoolroom by BETH ALTENA They learn about everything with a nature in mind. The East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) Earthkeepers magnet includes sixth- and seventh-grade students who, between them, not only cover the different areas of traditional curriculum with nature-themed studies, but are also literally changing the landscape around them. The Earthkeepers convinced Principal Mike Ramm to propose a community garden on school property, a plan which dovetails nicely with similar plans underway at the Rockford Administrative Building property in downtown Rockford (see related story, page 1). They hope to further involve the public in promoting environmentally friendly practice with the use of rain barrels and hope to ask the City of Rockford to jump on board as well. Along with the members of the Izaak Walton League, the school is working with Groundswell, a coalition of community partners with a goal of hands-on environmental learning. The class was visited late in 2010 in preparation for spring of 2011, when they hope to be prepared to present the public with rain barrels as a fundraiser but mostly to promote environmentally friendly use of rainfall. “Any time you can create excitement by making curriculum come to life and even branch out into the community, you can see the students’ passion and enthusiasm. They know they are making a difference,” said Ramm. Ramm said the kids are divided into magnets at ERMS according to their own interests. Earthkeepers is just one of several, and creates an interesting dynamic. Teacher Linda Spencer points out that the environmental nature of the magnet draws the students who like outdoor activities such as hunting as well as nature-lovers who want to save the rainforests and whales and don’t understand hunters at all. Among the projects students undertake as they learn core curriculum studies—such as math, science, social studies, language and technology—are building rain barrels and planting gardens. Rain barrels are a project that is ideal for many reasons, but especially suited to school groups. According to Georgia Donovan, local Izaak Walton League president, rain barrels can be made cheaply and by pretty much anyone. Along with past president and board member Duane DeVries, Donovan walked the students through the creation and use of rain barrels. “You […]