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Agraria Center for Regenerative Practices is getting kids outside to learn about their environment

Agraria Center interior
Garrett Reese
Agraria provides six local schools with a curriculum and videos that focus on science and the environment found outside.

Kids are back in school but a local program hopes to get them out of the classroom. The free pilot program includes six schools in the region. It’s designed to teach kids about their environment while they are outside.

The Agraria Center for Regenerative Practices started The Big Map Out! Program during the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Originally, the idea was to give kids their assignments via Zoom while they sat outside. It was designed to keep kids engaged and learning about science even in a virtual setting.

Now, the Big Map Out! Program has shifted from different backyards to the schoolyard.Central to the program is the map children draw.

They start out drawing a perimeter of the schoolyard, and by the end of the year, they’ll have landmarks on the maps. Spots where they learned about animals, insects, trees, and more.

Celia Montemurri is the youth education manager at Agraria’s Land School, where some of the program is held.

“We are getting those math, English, language arts, social studies, and science standards, as well as social emotional learning standards in an experiential manner," Montemurri said. "So they’re not sitting at their desks doing worksheets. They’re outside involved in the math equation that’s happening with acorns or insects of some sort.”

Montemurri says that she and other educators have noticed a decrease in behavioral problems in children engaged in the program.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.