K-12 environmental science education on the US-Mexican border

TitleK-12 environmental science education on the US-Mexican border
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsBestelmeyer S, Hyder P.W., Fredrickson E.L., Havstad K, Herrick JE, Huenneke L., Atchley J.
Conference Name85th Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America
Date PublishedAugust 6-10, 200
Conference LocationSnowbird, UT
ARIS Log Number129602
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert Nature Park, classroom, education, field trips, k-12 programs, partnership

Environmental conflicts on the U.S.-Mexican border are increasing as populations grow, resources (especially water) become more limiting, and waste disposal concerns mount (e.g., low-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad, NM, and New York City sewage sludge outside Sierra Blanca, TX). The ability of the local population to evaluate potential options is limited by generally low literacy levels, including low ecological/scientific literacy. The Jornada LTER and the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range have recently developed a partnership with the nonprofit Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park in order to increase understanding of the arid and semiarid ecosystems dominating the border region. This partnership has generated a number of new programs that have effectively increased the number of students served by the LTER/ARS scientists. We are currently using a combination of structured field trips, school-based field measurements (school-yard LTER sites), and classroom visits to engage students. We are also working with teachers in several regional school districts to integrate these programs into the K-12 curriculum. Future plans include the development of a bilingual ecology curriculum for the Chihuahuan Desert and a permanent educational facility to be located in the park's 1000-acre field site.