Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Change

By Trisha Allen, Education Coordinator and Natalie LaVan, Restoration Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

When I say service, you say learning: service-learning, service-learning! Three cheers for the 21st Annual National Service Learning Conference.

A few short weeks ago, thousands of youth, teachers, and service-learning practitioners from around the globe gathered at the San Jose Convention Center to get inspired, share ideas, and gain tools for engaging young people in community-service projects across disciplines. The diverse representation of exhibits, workshops, thought sessions, and projects showcased during the three-day conference underscored just what a powerful teaching method service-learning can be.

And just what is service learning, you ask? To put it simply, service-learning is education in action! And the secret to successful service-learning projects lies in a few critical and common ingredients, namely: meaningful reflection, diversity, youth voice, and partnerships. Service-learning builds community and spans cultural and national boundaries and develops young people.

On the second day of the conference, Save The Bay got the chance to show participants how it’s done! About 35 individuals from all corners of the U.S. descended upon the Palo Alto Baylands for a Community-based Restoration Program. With representatives of all backgrounds – from places like Texas, New York, Tennessee and Illinois (just to name a few) – we were able to plant almost 100 native seedlings along the Bay. What's more, the group was able to learn about the key elements of a successful service-learning program and our precious Bay.

Click here for more information and resources about service-learning and the National Youth Leadership Council.

Or better yet, make Save The Bay’s Community-based Restoration Program your next service-learning project. This program engages young people in reinvigorating their communities, learning about wetland ecology and issues affecting the health of the Bay, and literally sowing those seeds of change.

Are you an educator? If so, find out how to this program aligns with curriculum standards and connects to many areas of study.

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