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Walking in the Woods with AP Environmental Science

Senior Bo Sims (center) and his classmates in AP Environmental Science spent a day outside at the woods owned by Father Aaron Jenkins, Scecina's chaplain coordinator and pastor at St. Michael Catholic Church in Greenfield. Their teacher is Marianne Echelbarger.

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

 “Why don’t you bring the students to my woods for a day?” 

It was an invitation Scecina science teacher Marianne Echelbarger could not refuse. Father Aaron Jenkins, Scecina’s chaplain coordinator, was speaking about the cabin and 30 acres of woods his family owns in southeastern Indiana nestled in the picturesque Whitewater River Valley. 

“I love our woods and so I like to share it when I can,” said Father Jenkins, who also is pastor at St. Michael Catholic Church in Greenfield. “Plus, it’s very obvious that most of the students in the class really had no experience with a ‘woods.’ Hands-on experience of wild places is essential to helping people stay connected with creation and it helps them be in favor of protecting them in the future, even if they don’t regularly use them.” 

Father Jenkins’ woods were the perfect place for Scecina’s AP Environmental students to apply what they learned in the classroom to the real world. So Mrs. Echelbarger loaded up two Scecina buses full of eager students for the hour-long trip from Scecina. One of those students was senior Bo Sims. Bo, who went to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, found himself in his element in Father Jenkins’ woods. 

“We got to explore other areas of the environment than inner-city life,” he said. “It was great for me, because I want to go into sustainable studies. That means making sure the resources we have are available for the next generation.” 

Bo also is the student body president and a member of band and the baseball team.

 The AP Environmental Science course provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the inter‐problems both natural and human‐made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. 

Before Bo could take this AP (Advanced Placement) class, he had to prepare with a year each of biology and chemistry. Students in AP courses take College Board exams at the end of the year. Students who earn a score of 3 or higher on an AP Exam can receive college credit. Scecina offers 21 AP courses. 

“The AP Environmental Science class here at Scecina is allowing me to prepare by giving me experience and a better background of what I will do in college. It's like a ‘sneak peek,’ in my opinion,” said Bo. 

Mrs. Echelbarger said Bo and the other AP Environmental Science students said the field trip was the best experience of the class so far. 

“It was an incredible day,” she said. “I know the students came back with an appreciation of the physical world as well as more knowledge about ecology and the environment. It was the perfect way to apply what we've learned and so good to get out of the classroom.” 

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