Au Sable Institute’s Environmental Education Program provides extraordinary opportunities for school children throughout northwest Lower Michigan to study our environment first hand through direct experiences. The curriculum is sequential and is designed to mesh with the objectives of classroom disciplines and the science objectives for the state of Michigan. These steps fall in four categories: Environmental Awareness, Environmental Dependency, Beginning Ecology, and Environmental Studies.
These studies engage the students in a sensory exploration of the natural world that enhances their ability to observe. These studies familiarize students with the common plants and animals of our Northwoods region and in so doing instill a “sense of place.” Each study provides direct experience with the natural world that fosters wonder, joy, and delight. In addition to laying the foundation for environmental concepts, these studies include beginning science, math, and language arts skills. Special attention is given to support each school’s science curriculum and the states science learning objectives.
Many students do not understand that the environment supplies all of our basic needs. The study at this step in environmental understanding acts as a bridge between the environmental awareness studies and the beginning ecology studies. Students must understand that they are inextricably linked to the environment before proceeding to the study of ecology.
These studies provide students with a basic understanding of some of the important principles that govern the interaction among living things and their interaction with the non-living portion of the environment.
These studies use techniques to measure the health of our environment. Whether the study focuses on surface water, groundwater, or an entire watershed the inter-link between the biotic and abiotc elements of our environment are examined. Each study emphasizes how individuals affect environmental quality. Students are given the training necessary to make decisions and develop lifestyles that maintain a productive and healthy environment.
These steps are designed to train stewards who can take leadership in our communities to bring healing to the land and protect environmental quality.