The Starkville School District Board of Trustees has approved an agreement to move the headquarters of the award-winning Youth Environmental Science (YES!) educational program to the Larry Box Education Center located on the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
The Box Center, supported through a collaborative effort by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Interior, Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR, Starkville School District, and Mississippi State University, offers a unique environmental education program while YES!, a partnership between the SSD and MSU, introduces STEM disciplines via environmental topics through an innovative immersion approach.
“The parallel goals between the existing YES! program and the Larry Box Education Center provide an exclusive opportunity to blend the cutting edge science and technology driven curricula of the current YES! programming with the natural setting and outdoor learning opportunities at the Noxubee Refuge,” explained Jessica Tegt, who coordinates the YES! program.
Beginning in August 2015, every class of fourth and fifth grade students in the new Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and their teachers will spend a week at the Noxubee Refuge for multi-subject conservation-based education programming.
“The concept that every student will have an opportunity to learn through this interdisciplinary approach in the best possible setting is very appealing to us,” said SSD Asst. Supt. Jody Woodrum. “What better way to help each student understand our interdependence with the natural world in which we live while using future-oriented, technology-based tools like video cameras to create classroom presentations and robots to retrieve water samples? It is a ‘win-win’ opportunity for all of our students.”
During the 2015-2016 academic school year, the YES! program will also expand interdisciplinary science-based units to 6-8th grade students at Armstrong Middle School (AMS).
As part of the agreement, the Starkville School District will increase its financial support of the YES! program about $35,000, most of which will be used to pay the salaries of two part-time instructors.