Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools
Felton, California, USA
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MissionExploring New Horizons (ENH) empowers students, builds environmental literacy, and strengthens school communities through outdoor education. Our experienced naturalists engage over 7,000 San Francisco Bay Area students annually in hands-on learning, taking a whole child approach focused on ecology, social emotional learning, environmental stewardship, and the arts. Founded as a nonprofit in 1979, ENH partners with over 80 schools each year, and in our 40-year history we have served more than 200,000 students. ENH has two program models operating from September to June at our Sempervirens and Pigeon Point sites.
What We DoOver our 40-year history, ENH's goal has always been to offer high-quality and affordable programs that enhance positive associations between learning and the outdoors which students and their classroom teachers can take back to their classrooms and homes. At both sites, naturalists lead students in place-based learning, concentrating on interdependence, cycles, adaptations, and more, deepening students' ecological knowledge and interest in science and environmental stewardship. School groups also engage in cooperative team building activities, including family style dining, designed to build trust within and between the hiking groups and participating classes or schools. Learnings are reinforced through reflective nature journaling; drawing or nature art; participatory group songs, dances, and puppet shows; and skits where cabin groups act out a concept they have learned during the week. Conservation is also an essential part of the experience, as students weigh and graph their food waste at the end of each meal, take their composted food scraps to the garden, try to take a 3-minute shower, and participate in a mock town hall meeting.
A week out of the classroom in a new and emotionally-safe space builds students' self-confidence, empowering them to disrupt their classroom identities, behavior patterns, and solidify relationships with teachers and peers. Survey results from over 650 teachers throughout the last 5 school years show that over 96% of teachers agree that participating students:
* express more self-esteem
* have strengthened relationships with peers and teachers
* feel more connected to the environment
* better understand the ecosystems of coastal California
* are more comfortable being outside
* better understand their role as environmental stewards