Program in Iowa encourages fifth-grade students to write about the environment

This next generation will face the most direct impact from climate change, young people of color most of all. That is why the Iowa Youth Writing Project’s latest program, Writing on the Environment, is working to engage elementary schoolers in Iowa City with this reality.

On a field trip to the park at Cangleska Wakan in early May, students from Iowa City Community School District were tasked with composing nature journals, eco-poems, and nonfiction about their experience. According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, “It was part of the Iowa Youth Writing Project’s new program, Writing on the Environment, which invites students to write about the subject through lessons and exploration.” Three schools were selected for this initiative based upon their student populations who “may have higher economic need and those with more students of color,” since “‘communities of color are more affected by issues of climate change'” and “‘if we want to make a difference, make inroads in addressing those problems, we need to make sure that those communities are involved in finding solutions,'” says Patrick Snyder, elementary science and social studies coordinator with ICCSD.

Everyone reading this should applaud the IYWP for recognizing the intersection between science, literature, and social studies, as well as how critical that overlap is to inspiring meaningful action. Indeed, Melanie Hester, a fifth grade teacher at Alexander Elementary School for the past seven years, “observed how one of her students, who has ‘barely’ spoken throughout the year, ended up leading his group through the trail and back to its meeting spot.” With this kind of encouragement, children like that can grow up empowered to overcome otherwise insurmountable challenges for the good of all.