The Auburn University Environmental Institute’s (AUEI) Black Belt Environmental Science and Arts Program (BBESAP) reaches out to underserved youth in the Black Belt region of Alabama. BBESAP is an off-campus environmental education project designed to increase the appreciation, knowledge and conservation of natural resources by the region’s students, and teachers. The program targets public school students (grades 5-8) in the Black Belt region and provides special outdoor classroom field days offering educational opportunities and career development exposure in a non-traditional setting.
The program format is designed to stimulate academic achievement in science and the arts. The program is intended to complement and enhance the classroom curriculum in science by conducting hands-on environmental science modules. The environmental education efforts are further enhanced through literary and visual art modules. Such activities demonstrate to students how environmental awareness is not a purely scientific endeavor but can include works of art and literature.
Since spring 2005, 143 field days and programs were conducted and over 5,401 students from 13 different Barbour, Bullock, Wilcox, Monroe and Macon County Schools attended. Examples of science modules included tree identification, fossils, mosaic, trail walks, reptiles and amphibians comparison, pond ecology, hydrology characteristics, bats, and carnivorous plants. Art-related modules included nature photography, farm life depiction, haiku poetry and nature journals. More detailed descriptions and photos are found on the module page.
In fall 2012, students from D. C. Wolfe in Macon County were treated to a visit from Glenn and Heidi Reed of Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The Reeds own an Internet business called "Where on Earth?" and have generously donated geology and fossil materials to the program for several years. The Reeds shared their love of nature's marvels and mysteries with students at the Wehle Nature Center. They brought a collection of art made from animal pieces to demonstrate how native peoples and cultures waste no part of the animals they hunt. The Reeds presented a variety of pieces from Eskimo-carved walrus tusks to wolf pelts and shark jaws. Each student left with a starter collection of shark teeth and fossils donated by Glenn and Heidi.
The Reeds have volunteered to teach 13 programs for AUEI's Black Belt Education Program since 2009.
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2013