Environmental Educator: Christy Flynn

With over 20 years of experience in the classroom and in environmental education workshops, Christy Flynn makes a big difference in the lives of her students and coworkers, as well as in the fate of our wetlands.

Q:  What subject(s) & grade(s) do you teach? 

A:   I teach 5th grade science and social studies at South Grant Elementary, which is located in Grant Parish.

Q:   Why is it important to you to teach about Louisiana wetlands, and how does it align with your teaching  philosophy?  

A:   So often our science curriculum focuses on big “world” problems like rainforests. It’s hard for the kids to wrap their heads around those, because they are so unfamiliar. When we talk about the Louisiana wetlands, they know them. They’ve visited them with their families. They have stories.  Louisiana is our home. If anyone is going to take the lead in solving the problems it should be us. I feel that we should prepare students for the real world. We should teach them to solve real world problems, problems that directly affect their lives. We should give them the power to take the lead in learning about these issues and then working on finding solutions. We need a generation of problem solvers, not problem causers!

Q:  In what ways do you encourage your students to be proactive/involved in environmental stewardship?  

A:  We talk about ways that they can help, because they often feel that because they are “just kids” that there’s nothing they can do. We talk about small things like picking up trash. Using reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles, and sharing what they’ve learned with the people in their lives. We talk about how small changes can have a big impact.  

Q: Describe your favorite lesson/activity that you use in your classroom to teach about Louisiana wetlands.    

A:   In 1999 I was introduced to Grand Terre and what was happening on our coast by two amazing educators, Paul Jackson and Angela Capello. After that first year at Wetshop, I was hooked. I became a volunteer instructor with Wildlife and Fisheries, which gave me the chance to see the changes for myself, every summer as we returned to Grand Terre, and then to Grand Isle.  I show pictures of the changes I’ve seen over the years. I tell them why it matters to me. Then we do a walkthrough of posters showing a variety of things and the students have to decide if it will positively or negatively affect the wetlands, and how. They also have to decide if it’s a naturally occurring thing, or something caused by humans. Ultimately, they all negatively impact them and most are caused by humans. It’s very eye opening. We explore each of the situations, building of canals, invasive species, etc. Another thing we do that I love is to visit the CWWPRA page, “I Remember”, and listen to some of the stories of people directly impacted by coastal land loss. That makes it very real for my students. 

Q:  What would you say to a student who is hesitant or not interested in participating in a lesson about  Louisiana wetlands?

A:  I have them every year. That child who just feels like they’re not connected to the problem. We talk about all the different wetlands, and which ones we have here. Most have a memory of a fishing trip, a boat ride, a walk in the woods. Sometimes that’s the hook that gets them. We look at the watershed map, at how important Louisiana wetlands are to the nation. I challenge them to learn how they can truly change the future, not just for them, but for the nation.  

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