Write Out: Connecting to the Community’s Conservation Efforts

Town of Southampton Conservation Lands

The other day, I met with two officials from the Open Space Review Committee of the town where I teach (different from the town where I live). We were talking about a grant they have received to gather landowners in town for a few meetings to talk about open space preservation and conservation, and I was curious about how I might dovetail their work with a community writing project with my sixth graders. (I had noticed an article in the local newspaper about the project and reached out)

Ever since the Write Out project last summer, I’ve been thinking of how I might get my students more involved in the wildlife and woods of their small but growing town. (Write Out is an online collaborative learning experience with a focus on historic and natural spaces, stemming from a long partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. I was one of the co-facilitators, learning along with others. This year, Write Out is planned for the Fall, in conjunction with the National Day on Writing)

The after-school meeting was great — they were enthused by the idea of the school in town connecting to their efforts to reach more landowners, and we agreed that my students might be able to do a research project on some of the endangered/threatened species in different areas of the town, perhaps by creating some public informational pamphlets before a community-wide walk scheduled for May.

Town of Southampton

For now, I am perusing the resources — maps, and informational packets, and more — and reaching to the local Audubon Society for help in thinking about the natural landscape of the town. The town sits on top of the one largest natural water sources underground in the region — the Barnes Aquifer — so I want to be able to incorporate that, too. The town officials have offered to line up folks to visit the classroom, to share information and answer questions.

We even talked about resurrecting an old field trip (long run by a retired teacher) to a nearby small mountain — the highest peak in the town — asĀ  a way to connect the research work with another view of the place where they live.

It’s exciting to think about the possibilities.

Peace (outside, in),


  1. Kevin, Thanks for this post. Exciting to think about!

    My first thoughts are these:
    — There’s certainly an informational / educational component to the work, a component that students might be able to contribute through their research and writing. I can imagine a mapping project like you’ve talked about in previous posts on the Write Out project.
    — There’s also a cool place for personal story/reflection here, too. I think of the work of Robert MacFarlane, who is trying to help people see the natural world that is right here in front of us, to name it and reveal its (natural) history. If the drive to conserve comes from love, then I wonder how we might help people learn to love, or express that love?

    Hmmm…now you have me thinking about my region…Thank you.

  2. Hi Kevin,

    I encourage you to look at this Rest of the Story pdf and another like it, that I’ve posted on Slideshare. https://www.slideshare.net/tutormentor/rest-of-the-story-follow-negative-news-with-call-to-action

    You could create a version of this, showing role of students in your class and local schools, focusing on natural resources in your geographic area. If one group of students sets up a blog, or web site, to host their stories, youth in following years could keep adding new stories, or updating old ones.

    I’d be happy to email you the ppt if you’d like to try to edit it to your purpose.

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