Columbia, SC—Jennifer Mancke has been named Richland County’s Conservation Teacher of the Year by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Mancke is the 1st-5th grade lead teacher at Harmony School, a non-profit school in Forest Acres which offers a unique, multi-year, blended curriculum inspired by Montessori, Waldorf, and Inquiry-Based teaching principles.
“The daily classroom life of Mancke’s students is a model of sustainability,” says Jane Hiller, Education Coordinator at Sonoco Recycling and Director of the SC Green Steps School program. “The concepts of reduce, reuse, recycle and compost are practiced daily,” with students using washable bowls and utensils for meals and snacks; reusing items like egg cartons, newspaper, plastic bags and cardboard tubes for classroom pets’ needs and art projects; and even upcycling items that would be thrown away into costumes for an Earth Day Fashion Show.
During their school day, Mancke’s students develop deep connections to the natural world by growing herbs, greens, and fall vegetables in raised beds and by raising chickens. They collect and store seeds, harvest and dry herbs to give as gifts, and eat the fruits of their labors—including eggs!—during school snack times. They also participate in field studies to sites including the wastewater treatment plant, municipal water treatment plant, and several farms to learn about conservation in our community.
Civic engagement for conservation is also a concept Mancke encourages in her classroom. At the start of each school day, students discuss current events, including sustainability and environmental issues. They have participated in Richland County Council and Forest Acres City Council meetings, providing public input about issues including urban sprawl, sidewalks, and urban chicken-keeping.
“Jennifer Mancke is an outstanding role model for conservation education in Richland County,” concludes Hiller, who nominated Mancke for the award.
Through the Conservation Teacher of the Year Program, the Richland SWCD seeks to recognize and reward educators who prioritize environmental learning and teach their traditional curriculum through a conservation-minded lens. “We want to reward teachers for their efforts, and we also want to help sustain and expand those efforts,” says Richland SWCD Vice Chair Jeff Laney. “Supporting the education of our youth is one of the fundamental purposes of conservation districts as we seek to promote the wise use of natural resources.”
Mancke will receive a cash award, a $500 Conservation Education Mini-Grant for Harmony School conservation projects, and will also progress to the statewide Conservation Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the SC Association of Conservation Districts. She will be recognized at the Richland SWCD’s “Conservation Cookout” on May 22, 2019.
For more information, contact Chanda Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. In South Carolina, Conservation District boundaries conform to County boundaries. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use and care of natural resources for long-term sustainability.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088