Parks classrooms

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Thank you for your recent coverage of the plans for the new Frick Environmental Center (“Bids Sought for New Frick Environmental Center,” April 2). This project is integral to our region’s education community.

As a Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher at the SciTech Academy, I have had the great fortune to work with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy for four years. My 10th-grade students participate annually in their high school Urban EcoStewards program and have adopted an acre of Schenley Park where they have planted more than 75 new trees, removed invasive species and honed their scientific inquiry and observation skills.

The parks conservancy has created an outdoor classroom that has allowed these urban youth to learn real-world skills in the natural sciences while shrinking the “enrichment gap” common in our city. Their achievement in science has proliferated. Our students feel safe there and they are incredibly proud of the knowledge they’ve gained, the fears they’ve overcome and the stewardship work they’ve accomplished.

Awareness of Pittsburgh’s cultural and natural amenities gives young people a sense of possibility for their futures as productive and engaged community members. It inspires them to want to learn and to want to act.

I am thrilled about the new Frick Environmental Center. It will allow the parks conservancy to reach even more youth with the real-world, hands-on environmental education and action that teaches children that each of us, throughout our lives, has a vital role to play in making our region a better place to live for today and for generations ahead.

HEIDI ZELLIE
Friendship


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