Sarah Larson-Dennison, a 4th grade teacher at Moharimet Elementary School is definitely an outstanding environmental educator. She and her students are pioneer members of Maple Watch, a study of the health of maple trees, and have partnered with researchers from the University of New Hampshire.
Sarah has been a key leader at Moharimnet by developing a maple sugaring program that involves every child at the school. She has helped develop activities and curricula for each grade level so that maple sugaring can be integrated into each age group and discipline. Sarah and her students have collected sap samples for chemical analysis at UNH. In the future, students will report out phenologic events such as first sap run or leaf out to help gather valuable research information about a tree that is considered an indicator species for climate change.
In addition to teaching her own students, Sarah has shared her program with other teachers. As a Maple Watch pilot teacher, Sarah is working with teachers from eight other New Hampshire schools to develop research protocols and classroom lab activities. Last year Sarah shared her ideas and experiences at the UNH Forest Watch annual meeting.
Sarah’s citizen scientist students are touching nature in a way that will give them lifelong ties to nature and a conservation ethic.