Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Spartanburg Water System (SWS) is investing in the future of thousands of Spartanburg County students with a $12,606 grant.
With the grant money, the Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE) will launch a children’s nature exploration course called “SPACE to Learn” in spring 2021. This program will provide free outdoor learning opportunities along the Cottonwood Trail for Spartanburg County pre-K to high school students.
The program will provide an alternative, outside-the-box classroom for science teachers, homeschooling groups, and children’s organizations – and focus on the importance of preserving and caring for the Pacolet River Watershed.
Partnering with the John F. Green Spartanburg Science Center, the curriculum for this outside classroom field experience will include how the Pacolet Watershed impacts local families, what comes out of the tap, and how individual, every day choices affect our watershed.
The hope of this program is that teaching students about watershed topics, including the importance of water and wastewater treatment systems in protecting public health and the environment, will provide an impactful learning experience for the youth of Spartanburg County.
“Research has shown that teaching children in an outdoor space is more than a fun, novel experiences for kids – it actually helps them focus once they return to the classroom or virtual learning format,” said Elisa Mroz, Head of Montessori Academy of Spartanburg.
Additionally, as we’ve navigated COVID-19 and the challenges it’s presented, one thing the pandemic has spotlighted is the importance of outdoor recreation systems and their ability to connect people safely. With the statewide stay-at-home order enacted earlier this year, the community has realized the value of walkable green spaces and public nature areas.
Since the pandemic began in March, SPACE said its requests have doubled from groups searching for outdoor educational opportunities, including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, church groups, preschools and elementary schools, and homeschooling groups.
“Due to an increasing need for fresh air and walkable green spaces, our public nature areas are being experienced by new users every day – an increase of 45% since March from an average daily usage of 225 to now 500,” said SPACE Executive Director Amanda Mathis.
With nearly 7,000 monthly guests – an increase from an average of 2,100 – Mathis said access to the trails is crucial.
“Our SPACE to Learn program will educate our youth on the importance of protecting the Pacolet River Basin and the need to conserve and preserve nature – not only