Schools may design their own replacements for the 33-year-old program.
By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- No progress has been made toward re-creating the TAMPEEL environmental education program since its end was announced in the spring, a Trumbull County Educational Service Center official said.
Rather than re-create the countywide program, individual school districts will integrate their own programs into the rest of the curriculum, said Brice Harris, Trumbull County Educational Service Center science supervisor.
"They will be more individual and work with the schools, rather than a cooperative-type program," he said.
In announcing the end of the 33-year-old Trumbull Area Multipurpose Environmental Education Laboratory program, officials said not enough districts could participate to operate it "in a fiscally responsible manner," although some districts wanted to continue the program.
TAMPEEL provided environmental education for Trumbull County pupils, focusing on the fifth grade. Students took two daylong field trips, one in the fall and one in the spring. They were offered classes outlined by the state curriculum.
"We had a soils class that was very hands-on," Harris said. "It was very inquiry-based."
Individualized programs will help schools operate to their best advantage, he said. Some teachers are quite knowledgeable about environmental science and ecology, and others need the professional development he offers.
Individualized programs will open up more options, allowing schools to have more field trips and other activities at their schools. The new programs will integrate environmental science into the rest of the curriculum, so teachers don't feel bound to have it only in the fifth grade.
"The point is to make sure the kids get the very best education, no matter how it has to happen," he said.
The state has set standards for each content area, such as social studies and science, and what is to be achieved at each level, Harris said. "Each grade level would have their own objectives," he said.
For example, Harris said, fifth grade concentrates on environmental science and ecology, and sixth grade focuses on rocks and the rock cycle. The new individualized programs would allow schools to plan activities for each grade.
"The state asks for accountability, so the teachers are very interested in following standards and making sure the pupils get what they need," he said.
Harris said when school districts express interest in having their own program, he sends them a packet of information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources so they can get an idea of what sort of program they want. He said he will also walk their land with them, to decide what kind of program would be good.
Harris said he also directs schools to similar programs in Mahoning and Ashtabula counties.
"Camp Whitewood in Ashtabula offers similar experiences," he said. "Mill Creek Park in Mahoning County does too."
Among the local schools that initially looked to create their own programs to replace TAMPEEL are Bloomfield-Mesopotamia, Champion and Hubbard, Harris said.
Bloomfield-Mespo Superintendent Frank DiPiero said his district was disappointed when TAMPEEL ended and explored options for starting its own program. He said, however, that Camp Whitewood, a 4-H camp, offered a better alternative because it was close to the school, and using the camp's facilities is easier. In addition, he said, the camp has "a traveling road show" that can visit the school.
Among the educational programs offered by Camp Whitewood are fish ecology, geology, forest ecology and orienteering. The variety of educational programs it offers will allow the district to have in-the-field programs for various grades, not just fifth grade.
"They have all kinds of terrain and fossils," DiPiero said. "You can incorporate not only environmental, but all kinds of science."
DiPiero said the fee connected to using Camp Whitewood is minimal, and the district will be able to control how much the program costs. Cost will depend on the ages and programs the district picks, and the camp's availability.