In January of 2010, Chewonki Outdoor Classroom for Schools, Ferry Beach Ecology School, UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond, and UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Tanglewood began work to create Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students: the ELLMS Project. With their belief in the critical importance of experiential, holistic environmental education and recognizing the economic challenges currently facing public schools, these four Maine educational nonprofit organizations have formed a partnership to help provide residential environmental education programs to Maine public school students. In 2012, the SERC Institute at Acadia National Park joined as the fifth partner.
The long-term goal of ELLMS is to make residential environmental education accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds in Maine by establishing a financial aid fund for public upper-elementary and middle schools to attend programs at one of the four ELLMS partner sites. Through the ELLMS financial aid fund, these schools will be able to apply for grants to help send their students to any of our five organizations.
The mission of the ELLMS Project is to encourage students to develop a lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability and stewardship, outdoor exercise and recreation, good nutrition, community-building, and civic engagement through positive, nature-based activities, lessons, and challenges. Living outdoors bridges gaps between students, enlivens learning, fosters a sense of group unity, and creates an atmosphere in which trust and exploration can flourish. ELLMS participants will gain a deeper understanding of the natural world and their place within it; higher self-esteem; greater enthusiasm for learning; and an understanding of the “green economy.”
To date, the ELLMS Project has allocated $261,000 to support 1,989 students from 33 Maine schools.