Collaboration is the Key

December begins the season to assess the year’s ending and thank all the people that contributed to its success. It is hard to believe that 2014 is at a close, and I am delighted to report the successful year it turned out to be! With the help of our various partnerships, CURes introduced Urban EcoLab curriculum lessons to over four thousand new students this year.

First and foremost, the newest CURes program is our Urban Ecology Teacher Academy. It made its well-received debut in September. Our first cohort of fifteen teachers work together to create engaging, project –based urban ecology lessons to excite students through STEM education. Academy teachers range from elementary through high school teaching levels. We have teachers from Cienega Elementary, Transfiguration Elementary, Alhambra School District, The City Middle School, Bassett High, and Pacific Palisades Charter High School. The largest school representation is from Playa Vista Elementary School- boasting four of its teachers as members of our Academy!  Read more all about our Playa Vista collaboration.

We continue working with Friends of Ballona Wetlands by supporting environmental education through field trips offered both at Ballona Fresh/Saltwater Marsh and Ballona Discovery Park.   Teachers implementing our Urban EcoLab lessons are encouraged to visit the wetlands and/or the park with their students and participate in our interactive, naturalist led field experiences personalized to their classes’ needs. Contact information for field trips request is Patrick at patrickt@ballonafriends.org.

The CURes team supporting the Friends of Ballona Wetlands Moonlight on the Marsh fundraiser.

The CURes team supporting the Friends of Ballona Wetlands’ Moonlight on the Marsh fundraiser.

CURes Teacher Academy representatives supporting the Youth Science Center's 52nd Anniversary.

CURes Teacher Academy representatives supporting the Youth Science Center’s 52nd Anniversary.

Youth Science Center’s EcoVoices program and Bassett High School increase our student outreach throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Through these programs, students learn about the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Watersheds and their ecosystems. Ecovoices is a weekly field trip program offered free of charge to La Puente area schools wherein students learn about bird biodiversity and ecosystem change using Urban EcoLab curricula as its content foundation http://cures.lmu.edu/for-instructors/urban-ecolab-curriculum/.  Contact information for EcoVoices field trip requests is Diana Padilla at Diana@youthsciencecenter.org.

Thank you to all our partners! Without your collaboration we cannot obtain our goal of using urban ecology educational opportunities to inspire students to transform their neighborhoods into resilient, vibrant, and just cities!

About the Author: Patricia Amarillas is the Director of Education at CURes. Her professional experience encompasses over 15 years of private and public school teaching with an emphasis on literacy education. Ms. Amarillas uses her teaching background to develop, lead and support teachers and students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education curricula.  In particular, she oversees the Urban EcoLab Curriculum, the STELLAR Project and CURes’ Urban Ecology Teacher Academy and Teacher Workshops.