Nature buddies : students leading students in a nature inquiry
early adolescent leadership
This case study explores how a weekly, interdisciplinary, school-based Nature Buddies program influences grade seven students’ ideas about leadership, kindergarten students’ response to place- based learning and teachers’ perspectives on integrating environmental education into curricula. By studying the impacts of learning and leading in the local natural environment, this research contributes to place-based, student-directed learning through leadership. Results are based on qualitative data collection through focus groups with students, student journals and work, teacher and student interviews, and teacher/researcher journal reflections. It was found that an interdisciplinary approach to environmental education with a leadership component positively impacted the motivation of learners; allowed new relationships to form with self, others and nature; created a shift in the control and flow of learning; and highlighted the need for time for appropriate implementation. Suggestions to improve environmental education in the urban public school context are discussed.