Program notes Rachel Carson’s influence on environmental literacy

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to sponsor a presentation entitled “From Nature Study to Environmental Literacy: Rachel Carson as Teacher,” as part of the Outdoor Heritage Month activities in partnership with Natural BioDiversity, Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, Johnstown Area Heritage Association, and other organizations.

The free presentation will be held at 7 p.m. April 27 at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Street, Johnstown.

The centerpiece of Outdoor Heritage Month is Outdoor Adventures on April 23 and 24 at Quemahoning Lake in Somerset County.  Over 1,000 elementary-school pupils are signed up to participate in day-long field trips designed to inspire them to nurture nature. Representatives of more than 40 organizations will be there to help kids explore concepts such as watersheds, wildlife habitat, invasive species and energy.

Outdoor Heritage Month also features eight workshops, two musical shows and two presentations or films.  Many of the activities are geared toward kids, such as the Farmer Jason concert and “Tremendous Trees” — a hands-on science and math workshop for K-2nd graders that’s all about trees.

Details are available on the Johnstown Area Heritage Association web site.

PEC’s April 21 presentation features Vivienne Shaffer of Pittsburgh, who will explain how the 19th century nature-study educational movement attracted scientists, naturalists, teachers and others fascinated by nature’s beauty and mysteries. Its proponents advocated learning through the senses by direct observation of the natural world. The Pennsylvania hills provided fertile ground for such ideas and Maria McLean Carson explored them with her star pupil, her daughter Rachel, who went on to write several classic books that shaped the nation’s environmental consciousness.  The presentation explores how nature study has influenced the 21st century concept of environmental literacy, and how Rachel Carson influenced the process.

Ms. Shaffer of Pittsburgh is program coordinator for the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, and formerly served as education and museum director at the Rachel Carson Homestead Association. The presentation is a program of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and its We the People initiative. The Pennsylvania Humanities Council, a nonprofit organization, inspires individuals to enjoy and share a life of learning.