Inspiring Community and Environmental Stewardship

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As educators, we recognize that inspiring community and environmental stewardship is a huge task and one that is not achievable solely through the School Overnight Program. For this reason, the School Partnerships Program has been developed around the ideas of connecting IslandWood curriculum with home school curriculum and inspiring schools to engage in Community Learning Projects through long-term relationships with IslandWood and other community organizations. Having recognized the enormity of the task, we make every effort to engage children in meaningful experiences that help them recognize the value of being a steward of themselves, their community, and the environment. We do this with the recognition that children come with an understanding of what it means to care, and our challenge is to help them to develop more deeply the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to care for their community and the world around them.

As a group of educators, we have worked together to define the words: stewardship, community, and environment. In particular, the word stewardship has been challenging for many of us because it can be interpreted in a way that promotes hierarchy and paternalism. Recognizing these challenges, we have embraced the following definitions.

Stewardship is action that arises from caring and informed relationships in one’s natural and cultural communities.

The places where we live and the systems that support life.

At IslandWood, environment:

  • ranges in scale from very small to global in scope.
  • includes both natural and human made, or "built,” environments.

Gatherings that are compassionate, respectful and committed to a greater good.

At IslandWood, communities:

  • value the diversity inherent within their members
  • range from local to global in scope
  • are framed around commonalities including histories, philosophies, location , etc.

It is our hope that reflection on these words and definitions in the context of our teaching and learning will help us to both embody and inspire environmental and community stewardship.