Examples of Intergenerational Programs
The following examples reflect the diversity that exists in terms of approaches, organizational frameworks, and settings of intergenerational programs.
- Intergenerational Outdoor School Program (Penn State University):
The Intergenerational Outdoor School (IOS) is a residential educational program developed by Penn State University in which 4th grade students and older adults are brought together for a 4-day period to learn about nature and gain insight into other people’s values for caring for the environment. Prominent activities included discovery walks and civil involvement. The pilot program demonstrated that the intergenerational component had a positive impact on both students and older adults. Students reported feeling more positively about the environment and wanting to protect it; older adults learned that students are receptive to their knowledge and views on the environment. For more information, see http://aee.cas.psu.edu/FCS/mk/EnvEd.html.
- Family Friends Environmental Health Project (Temple University):
The U.S. Administration on Aging funds 35 "Family Friends" programs around the country for children with special needs, three of which have a focus on environmental health. Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning conducts one of these programs. During a period lasting from 6-12 weeks, senior adult volunteers work with these children. Together they learn about asthma, lead poisoning, second-hand smoke and other house-based environmental health risks. Then, they develop skits, art projects, and puppet shows to educate others about environmental health issues.
Family Friends Environmental Health projects rely on partnerships formed between organizations that serve older adults for their volunteers and environmental organizations for training them. Project activities take place in schools and other community settings such as retirement communities.
- Habitat Intergenerational Program (HIP) (Habitat Education Center
and Wildlife Sanctuary, Belmont, MA):
Started in 1987 the Habitat Intergenerational Program (HIP) is a community of learners of all ages, interests and cultures who are committed to fostering intergenerational relationships, environmental learning and a sense of environmental stewardship. HIP promotes awareness and conservation of the natural environment through educational programs and community service projects coordinated by Massachusetts Audubon’s Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary. Community service and educational activities take place within the 84-acre sanctuary and out in the surrounding communities.
HIP activities bring people of all ages together to work on a variety of environmental service projects: removing invasive species, helping to rejuvenate a pond, restoring walking trails, and creating wildlife habitat areas at schools using only native plants. For more information, see:www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Habitat/
- Garden Mosaics (Cornell University):
Garden Mosaics is a science education and community action program in which youth of ages 10-18, learn about plants and planting practices from older gardeners. The program provides a model for balancing the knowledge of older adults and scientists in a youth community education and action program. Through interviewing older gardeners, youth learn about plants, planting practices, and cultures in the urban community and other gardens. The youth and adults then post their findings to electronic databases documenting the food growing practices of ethic an traditional gardeners, and the role of community gardens in urban neighborhoods.
Youth participants balance what they learn from older adults with learning from web-based "Science Pages" developed at Cornell. The "Science Pages" explain key science principles behind the practices that youth observe in gardens. Finally, the youth put into practice what they have learned by working in intergenerational teams that take on project to the benefit of garden and communities surrounding them: build raised beds, design new gardens and organize educational events. During 2003 approximately 500 youth, 250 gardeners and 65 educators participated in this program. For more information, see: www.gardenmosaics.cornell.edu/
- Intergenerational Landed Learning (University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C., Canada):
Intergenerational Landed Learning model demonstrates how urban farms can function as productive spaces for environmental education. The approach involves bringing together a group of students and retired farmers to explore values of environmental concern and care for the land and engage in an intergenerational learning process.
Eighteen 7th grade students from an urban school in British Columbia participated in a pilot program. Over a six-month period the students made a dozen trips to an urban farm to meet and work with farmers, most of whom were retired. After interviewing the individual farmers about their lives and about the history and challenges of farming, they then worked together in "Farm Friends teams" on various activities such as planning, cultivating, planting, and maintaining plants. Teachers from the school helped to plan the project and guide the integration of farm experience into the academic curriculum. The retired farmers took on many different roles and contributed to the students’ knowledge and concern about the environment and to their decision-making, critical thinking and reasoning skills. For more information see: www.edcp.educ.ubc.ca/landedlearning/