Welcome to the New Roots Program!
~Check back soon for updates on the upcoming June 2015 Program~
We are proud to present a new program intended to expose children of the refugee community to some of the special places in and around Boise. We teach participants about our local animals and ecosystems and have them participate in conservation action. We believe that connecting youth to the environment in which they live in turn connects them to our larger community, and makes them stakeholders in their new home of Boise.
In June of this year GEAS and our partners hosted the pilot New Roots Program for 11 children from around the globe. Through the course of the five day program we visited Bogus Basin, the Foothills Learning Center, Hulls Gulch, Hyatt Hidden Wetlands Reserve, Discovery Park, Lucky Peak Reservoir, Blacks Creek Bird Reserve, the World Center for Birds of Prey, Intermountain Bird Observatory’s Boise River Site, Municipal Park, and Zoo Boise.
The kids met and learned from professionals from the US Forest Service, Foothills Learning Center, The Ridge to Rivers Partnership, Boise WaterShed, The Army Corps of Engineers, IBO, and of course, GEAS. They picked up garbage, helped maintain trails, and even planted sagebrush at Blacks Creek. They learned about many bird species and were able to participate in banding American Kestrels at Lucky Peak Reservoir and several more songbird species at IBO’s Boise River Site.
In addition to the experience and service learning pieces, we also made sure to tap into the arts and play many games to have fun. We had the kids write in journals, invent and create a ‘new species’ (what a fun and creative activity!), participate in folding Passenger Pigeon origami for ‘Fold the Flock’ (see foldtheflock.org for more info on this great project), and more. One piece of the program that was a great success was giving each child a digital camera to ‘photo journal’ their experience; I felt like this technology helped reinforce their curiosity and observational skills and also gave us a fun way to document the journey! We sent all of the participants home at the end of the week with art and school supplies to keep and a selection of some of our favorite pictures to remember the program.
After an action-packed week we joined the festivities at World Refugee Day in downtown Boise. World Refugee Day is an international day of cultural celebration and locally we welcomed new US citizens as a group of refugees took their pledge. It was my first time experiencing this event and I was amazed by the beauty and diversity of this day. The New Roots kids attended the event and were able to share their experiences and recommend places refugee families could enjoy close to home and free of charge.
Many thanks to all the volunteers and community partners that made this pilot program a success! The partners for this first year included Boise National Forest, the Foothills Learning Center, Intermountain Bird Observatory, Be Outside Idaho, RefuSKI, and Create Common Good. This program wouldn’t have been possible without all the help that Dr. Megan Jones provided, as she became an integral partner in New Roots! Megan and Liz met in January and Megan immediately became dedicated to seeing this program succeed. She was invaluable in recruiting the children, helping to create programming, and being a leader throughout the camp, and more! Megan is an ‘English Language Learner’ teacher in the Boise School District and founder of the RefuSKI program, a program that connects refugee youth with the outdoors through sponsoring their participation on the Bogus Basin Nordic Ski Team. GEAS is lucky to have her help and thank you, Megan, so much for all your time, energy and commitment to New Roots!