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October 16, 2009

RPCC's Environmental Science Teacher Workshop Bolsters Curricula with Interactive, Louisiana-Focused Programming

By Angela Turner

River Parishes High School Teachers Participate in RPCC's 1st Environmental Science Workshop
River Parishes High School Teachers Participate in RPCC's 1st Environmental Science Workshop

River Parishes Community College held a workshop recently to assist area environmental science teachers enhance their curricula with interactive and Louisiana-relevant activities focused on teaching students to think critically about local environmental issues affecting them.


Nine high school environmental science teachers from Ascension, Iberville, St. James and St. John Parishes attended the free, day-long workshop that focused on issues such as waste management, invasive species, and urban expansion.  Activities included building a miniature landfill to safely contain waste and examining local maps and resources to plan for urban expansion with minimal negative impacts on the local environment.  All activities directly reflected Louisiana state requirements for environmental science curricula.


“The workshop provided outstanding activities and was a wonderful experience,” stated Marsha Leger, a teacher at Iberville Parish Math Science and Arts Academy West.   Other teachers remarked that they were very satisfied with the experience and were very likely to bring these activities back into their classrooms. 


The environmental science teacher workshop is part of an RPCC grant and initiative to develop environmental science programs and awareness in the River Parishes and at RPCC.  “Environmental science can be found in every science discipline.  This initiative not only promotes environmental science, but also illustrates that these are everyday issues that require different points of view to solve,” said Debi Graham, Environmental Sciences Coordinator at RPCC.  “The goal is to teach students how to think critically about environmental issues,” states Graham, “not what to think.”


The La. Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry facilitated activities from Project Learning Tree, the American Forest Foundation’s environmental education program that produces curriculum materials for students in grades PreK-12.  The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on the preservation and restoration of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin’s ecosystem, trained teachers to take accurate water samples and test the samples for turbidity, dissolved oxygen, fecal coli form bacteria and pH.  Both organizations also provided materials for teachers to take back to the classroom as well as the option for in-class visits to assist with student education.  The Louisiana Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association sponsored the breakfast and lunch for all participants. 


RPCC hopes to hold other workshops like this one in the future.  It is also offering and introductory environmental science course in Spring 2010. 

River Parishes Community College in Sorrento, La., is an open-admission, two-year, postsecondary public institution dedicated to developing and assisting students in achieving personal, professional and academic success. A component of the Louisiana Community and Technical College system and its board of supervisors, RPCC serves the Louisiana river parishes by providing transferable courses and curricula through certificates and associate's degrees. Please visit www.rpcc.edu or call (225) 675-8270 for more information.