The 5th Annual Awareness Project at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

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On May 14th, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School's 7th grade science classes, led by teacher Andy Nutter, hosted the 5th annual Awareness Project. This project serves as the cumulative of nearly a year of work by the students. It incorporates a wide array of career building skills like technical research and analysis, public speaking, cooperative problem solving, and radical listening. In previous years, topics ranged from homelessness to deforestation. The presentation is mainly for students to build academic skills that they will use in the future, but it also serves to shed light on social and environmental issues and possible solutions. 

Nearly 30 students presented about a variety of topics; ranging from climate change, plastic pollution, deforestation, over fishing and over hunting. Each student was responsible for at least one subject in the presentation, and there was an excellent level of consistency in content delivered. The students worked well together in preparation for this evening. Students also worked together to create excellent informational displays that covered the topics covered in the presentation. Students explored examples of community-based intervention to find solution pathways that would help both the local environment and the local communities. Radical listening was one the methods that communities at risk were able to utilize to find solutions that worked for the environment and those involved in the process.

Radical listening is the concept of truly and wholly listening to the local communities that are affected by changes to natural resource policy that may affect their livelihood. Taking input from all parties involved and taking weighted considerations for those that are at most risk. Students analyzed the trials and tribulations of implementing a Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) plan to mitigate poaching and hunting in the Botswana region in southern Africa. By taking input from all parties involved, especially those who are depended on hunting for their livelihood, the community at large was able to develop a refined natural resource use plan that helped local economies and environment alike. Another example presented was the Northwest Forest Plan, a series of federal initiatives to protect endangered species and habitat in the 1980-90's. Initially, a lack of cooperation between the timber industry and environmental groups led to a standstill and collapse of the timber markets in the region. But in more recent years, these groups have been working together to keep old growth forest habitat intact and develop better planting and harvesting methods to keep ecological stability intact in timber harvest zones. 

While this project is primarily an opportunity for students to hone their professional and academic skill sets, it also is an opportunity for parents, educators, and the community at large to learn more about the current environmental issues, and more importantly knowing about the process that produces results. A round of applause for the 7th grade class at Our Lady of Lourdes!
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