Project Report

Connor McGowan
Stratford Ecological Center: Environmental Education Intern
12/15/09

“The Stratford Ecological Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of
children and adults in understanding the relationships between living things and their environment,
thereby fostering an appreciation of the land and all life that depends on it. It provides hands-on
experiential education for individuals to learn ecological concepts, understand human ecology and gain
a reverence for the diversity, complexity and beauty of the natural world. It manages a diversified
working “family farm,” which demonstrates the lifestyle, techniques and principles of sustainable
agriculture, horticulture and forestry as well as promotes agroecological research. The Center also
strives to preserve the natural ecosystems of existing woods, streamsides, meadows and swamps
located on its 236 acre property.”

My final project was a detailed power point regarding sustainable agriculture and my experience
as an environmental education intern. In my presentation I covered a number of topics ranging from
organic laws and regulations that must be met in order to run an organic sustainable farm to feeding
cows and pigs each and every morning. In order for Stratford to remain a working organic farm they
must pass a yearly examination from the OEFFA. These examinations include anything from checking the
chicken feed to testing the water that is pumped into each field.

The second part of my presentation involved mainly information about my intern experience. As
an intern I would responsible for farm chores every morning and afternoon. I would also visit various
schools throughout the central Ohio area and speak in front of classes about Stratford and would then
lead these classes on educational hikes through Stratford’s farm and preserve land.
Stratford Ecological Center. Starting on September 8th of 2009 I was hired as an environmental education intern at a non-profit educational farm and nature preserve. My final project for Environmental Geography was a power point presentation that included detailed information about organic sustainable agriculture and my intern experience as a whole. I started my presentation with the Stratford mission statement which is, “The Stratford Ecological Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of children and adults in understanding the relationships between living things and their environment, thereby fostering an appreciation of the land and all life that depends on it. It provides hands-on experiential education for individuals to learn ecological concepts, understand human ecology and gain a reverence for the diversity, complexity and beauty of the natural world. It manages a diversified working “family farm,” which demonstrates the lifestyle, techniques and principles of sustainable agriculture, horticulture and forestry as well as promotes agroecological research. The Center also strives to preserve the natural ecosystems of existing woods, streamsides, meadows and swamps located on its 236 acre property.” Following this I gave a brief overview of the staff at Stratford. These staff members did not receive enough credit in my presentation but were amazing people to work with and of them had an impact on my experience and also taught me more than I could have imagined. I then began to discuss my internship experience and what the internship consisted of. As an environmental education intern I was responsible for morning and afternoon chores which included feeding the chickens, cows, pigs, cats, goats, sheep, cats, chicks, and at times milking the goats. I also assisted with hygiene care which included trimming hooves and treating for foot rot. In addition I would travel each Monday and Tuesday to various schools in the central Ohio area on pre-visits. The pre-visits consisted of talking in front of classes, discussing what Stratford was along with their goals and also what the classes could expect on their visit. Each Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the classes that had received pre-visits earlier in the week would come to Stratford and be led on guided tours by the interns.
My project also included information on sustainable organic farming as a business. Stratford in an organic self sustaining farm which means it uses no chemicals of pesticides on its plants or in its feed, and it is able to sustain itself year in and year out by maintaining the land. Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. I also included the organic certifications for livestock and produce that is required by the OEFFA for self-sustaining organic farms. (http://www.oeffa.org/certification.php)
Following the informational portion I went through a slideshow of pictures I had taken while at Stratford.

Appendix:
The majority of the information I used for my project was from personal experience while at Stratford. Each day brought something new and exciting which helped me to form my final project. While I was at Stratford I had contact with and every employee there and learned something different from each of them. The staff consists of Jeff Dickinson(farmer and director), Christa Hein(education director), Chris Byerly(Operations Manager), Jane Walsh(Volunteer Coordinator), April Hoy)Field Trip Coordinator, Mary Hilborn(Office Manager), and David Hoy(Development Director). While working at Stratford, everyday seemed to be an interview where I was gathering information. I learned how to care for the animals, what to feed them, how to treat them, what each of them needed, and how sustainable agriculture actually worked from Jeff Dickinson. I learned various teaching techniques and how to go about treating children of different ages and what I was expected to do from Christa Hein. The notes that I took were through experiences. The only information that I used that was outside of Stratford was the OEFFA certification (http://www.oeffa.org/certification.php) While at Stratford I also had to take a class on sustainable agriculture which was done via the internet through (http://www.sare.org/). This class was based on sustainable agriculture, various techniques, marketing strategies, cleanliness, animal care, produce care, etc.

I have a number of pictures from Stratford but cannot include them in this page because it is accessible
by anyone with the internet.
In the Spring of 2010, I plan on working at Stratford again, possibly in a slightly different position. As I said previously it was a great experience and something that I will never forget. Stratford is an amazing place and I hope in the near future there will be more and more places similar to Stratford.

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