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Partners in Education

[photo:] Partners in Education participants with Sarah Low at a Philadelphia creek.Partners in Education originated in 2008 as a collaboration between the Morris Arboretum and Title 1 schools in the Philadelphia Region to promote an understanding of the environment by K-12 students.  In 2012, the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station collaborated with Morris Arboretum to submit a successful proposal for a U.S. Forest Service “More Kids in the Woods” (MKIW) Grant to build off of the existing program. 

Through this 2-year pilot initiative, Station scientists and Arboretum staff are working directly with each school’s staff to develop tailored, year-long programs to integrate more environmental learning into their school curricula. For the 2012-2013 school year, watershed ecology, forestry/water quality connections, and natural resource careers were central themes.   The coming year will focus on:

  • Replicating and refining the tree inventory project conducted at the W. B. Saul High School, which uses inventory data and i-Tree to connect students to the ecological benefits of urban trees
  • Continuing the Outdoor Career Symposium, panel discussions and hands-on workshops for students interested in careers in natural resources
  • Expanding opportunities for educators and students to integrate visits to the Arboretum into their curricula, including potential additional bus subsidies for non-partner schools    


Teachers involved
Students involved
6 Forest Service staff
participated in the program the first year
Total Budget for 2-year pilot initiative

(includes MKIW grant,
FS in-kind and partner
non-cash contributions)


To date, the Partners in Education partnership between Morris Arboretum and the Northern Research Station has:

  • Helped students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf learn about wetlands benefits, invasive plants, and the ways vegetation changes through the season.
  • Introduced teachers and students at the Wissahickon Charter Elementary School to watershed ecology including water quality, how water shapes the landscape, human impacts on water, and the importance of wetlands to life and to water quality.
  • Involved students from the Walter Biddle Saul High School in the “Learning-by-Doing Tree Inventory” project including inventorying and analyzing the ecological benefits of trees on their 130-acre campus.
  • Integrated the environment into the curriculum of Mercy Vocational High School by sponsoring visits by educators to the Arboretum four times throughout the year. 


This partnership is helping to bring local natural environments into the awareness of students and teachers in Philadelphia’s Title I schools and empowering them to make positive changes, such as taking actions to improve local water quality.  In addition, increasing the environmental consciousness of students at an early age may ultimately spur them to longer term interests and possibly careers in natural resource related fields. 

Lessons Learned

Repeated field experiences in nature throughout the year, that were facilitated through the partnership between the Morris Arboretum and the Northern Research Station, greatly improve the effectiveness of the program in increasing knowledge and understanding of local environments.     

Partner Organizations

Last Modified: September 2, 2013