For 30 years, Mohonk Preserve has informed and inspired generations through inclusive outdoor education. In 2015, the Preserve’s education programs helped over 13,200 children and adults get into nature.
Through outreach to new school audiences in the urban centers of Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Kingston, in 2015 the Preserve’s K-6 Field Study and 7-12th grade STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs served over twenty new classes. Generous donations from the Preserve’s Annual Benefit Auction and other supporters provided scholarships to cover program fees and, in some cases, transportation costs. Mohonk Preserve continued our three decade collaboration New Paltz Central School District, working with teachers and administrators on a full revision of the K-6 Field Study Curriculum to carefully align with new and emerging statewide learning standards. The first revised programs were piloted in the fall of 2015 for kindergarten and grades 4-6.
Two new staff positions were added in 2015, including a 10-month Seasonal Environmental Educator and a full-time Citizen Science Education Coordinator. Both positions increase our capacity for serving new audiences through outdoor and in-school environmental education programming, and the Citizen Science position is the first to directly support both education and conservation science initiatives, advancing our Strategic Plan goal to more fully integrate these programs.
Our Junior Ranger program produced its first graduating class of thirteen teens, who completed a year-long program with a weeklong excursion to the Adirondack’s High Peaks region. This program is an important part of our expanded continuum of outdoor learning experiences.
In partnership with the San Miguel Academy of Newburgh, a third season of year-long outdoor STEM programs was completed and expanded to include a Junior Ranger program for all eighth grade students.
Also in 2015 we launched a new school partnership with the Nora Cronin Presentation Academy of Newburgh to help underserved girls experience outdoor education. From September through November, all classes in grades 5-8 visited the Preserve three times to participate in guided Field Studies and STEM programs.
These programs advance the “Mountain of Choices” diversity and inclusion goals of the Preserve’s Strategic Plan. Preserve educators continue to reach people in ways that enhance understanding, expand access, and encourage people to visit mindfully, strengthening the commitment to natural stewardship in our community, our region, and our world.