By MATT MASTERS / Photos by Matt Masters

Students from Brentwood High School and Ravenwood High School took part in the 12th Annual Environmental Education Day hosted by the City of Brentwood’s Engineering Department on Wednesday. 

The event took place at Deerwood Arboretum where over 100 environmental science students took part in hands-on activities that covered topics such as the habitat and ecology of streams and natural areas, the importance of these ecosystems to the animals that live and thrive in them and the impact humans have on the natural ecosystem.

Brentwood High School AP environmental science and ecology teacher Doug Anderson said that each learning station has an important lesson to teach and emphasized how each issue directly impacts other environmental issues with unique challenges and opportunities to promote sustainability.

“Water quality is a central concept and a central question that we talk about in our classes and it’s good to get them out here to meet actual scientists who are doing the work on the ground,” Anderson said. “Our partnership with the city enables us to bring all of these professionals that help the city together in one spot so that our kids can get an experience that otherwise they never could have.”

Emmie Enochs, the Animal and Out of School Programs Director for the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, was working the animal station featuring a frog, two turtles and a corn snake.

“We’re coordinating that with water quality and how that affects he animals and the animals to the water,” Enochs said. “They all definitely love the turtles — they’re always a big favorite — the snake always gets the first set of squeals and I think I’ve only had two who have completely shied away today so that’s a good number.”

Engineer Hunter Hethcoat was working the Enviroscape station which featured a diorama focused on the role of watersheds in the environment. 

“We’ve had a lot of great questions,” Hethcoat said. “Kids these days are really sharp, they’re environmentally-aware and they’re conscious of the fact that we have an impact on the environment and they seem genuinely interested in ways that they can minimize any negative impacts on the environment.” 

Ravenwood AP environmental science teacher Lianne Havinland said that the respect and understanding of the environment helps students to further connect to the issues and opportunities in environmental science especially during the field trip.

“This is really fantastic opportunity that the city of Brentwood puts on for us,” Havinland said. “It’s a free field trip for our students and it’s fantastic. It directly correlates to our class because we deal with all sorts of topics in environmental science, a lot of it dealing with water, so the kids are able to not only learn about issues and ways that they’re being fixed but they also get to learn about careers dealing with environmental science.”

Ravenwood Junior Sydney Fogarty said that while science hasn’t always been her strongest subject that she wanted to challenge herself with AP environmental science, a course that she also joked was a good alternative to anatomy, and one that has introduced her to new ideas during the field trip.

“We got to learn about snakes and turtles which was really cool because I used to be afraid of snakes and now they’re kind of cool,” Fogarty said. “We did a water filtration activity and it was interesting because we got to learn how water can be filtered with cotton balls and rocks.”

The field trip lasted most of the day and also featured courses on soil erosion, microscopes, assessing the health of streams and ground water inspection.