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WARRENTON, VA – May 14, 2015
By incorporating a series of innovative rainforest lessons and activities into her class’s curriculum, Saijal Patel, a third-grade teacher at the British School of Washington, is not just sharing the beauty of the rainforest with her students; she is helping them take action to protect its wonders.
Patel’s students began their studies by creating rainforest arts, crafts and displays in anticipation of a field trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo and U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC.
During their field trip, the students visited the Amazonia Exhibit, one of the largest and most complex rainforest exhibits in the world. Within the 25,000 square-foot rainforest habitat, students explored a living forest containing 350 species of plants, including 50-foot tall trees, tropical vines and epiphytes.
Jesse Lewis, Rainforest Trust’s education coordinator, joined Patel and her class on their trip to talk about tropical ecosystems and Rainforest Trust’s mission to protect them. Together they observed a variety of Amazonian animals, including Poison Dart Frogs, Silver-beaked Tanagers and Amazon River fish. Following their tour, Lewis led the students in a rainforest food web activity designed to teach children about the interconnected nature of rainforest plants and animals.
|Visiting the Amazonia exhibit at the National Zoo
© Will Thomas
|Tropical Smoothie and Chocolate Sale
© Jesse Lewis
|Jesse with the students
© Jesse Lewis
Returning from their field trip, students found their classroom and rainforest displays wrecked; it was a symbolic act by Ms. Patel. “Their reaction was priceless. Some children immediately made the connection to the rainforests and they all agreed this should not happen to people’s homes, especially as rebuilding and cleaning up is not easy in the rainforest,” Ms. Patel said.
To protect the rainforest and the creatures that make it their home from being destroyed, Patel and her class organized a fundraiser to save rainforests acres in the Peruvian Amazon with Rainforest Trust. Teaming up with Jamba Juice, the students sold two tropical fruit smoothies for a week with proceeds going to Rainforest Trust’s Sierra del Divisor campaign.
Selling chocolate (cacao) and tropical fruit smoothies in the school cafeteria gave Patel’s students a chance to highlight the many connections between rainforest, rainforest foods, and the daily lives of many Americans.
In the end, Patel’s students raised over $600. Thanks to an anonymous match, the money raised will save over 2,400 acres of Amazon rainforest in Peru’s Sierra del Divisor. This biodiverse part of the Amazon is recognized as a critical hotspot for global biodiversity and provides habitat for species such as Jaguars, Uakari Monkeys and South American Tapirs.
Through their efforts the students learned of the many reasons rainforests are special and in need of protection.
“My students are more aware now of what to do to protect the environment,” said Patel. “They even wrote a newspaper article for the local paper to spread the message. Now they want to turn everything into a fundraiser!””
Contact Rainforest Trust to learn about how you or your class can participate in Rainforest Ambassador fundraisers and activities.