Bucks County Herald

Buckingham Friends hosts environmental conference

Buckingham Friends School recently hosted its 16th annual Friends Environmental Education Network (FEEN) Conference.

The conference, run by the Friends Council on Education, was born of the belief that Friends schools have an obligation to teach environmental education and sustainability in their classrooms. A commitment to sustainability aligns with many core Quaker values, including peace (acknowledging that a degraded natural environment leads to inadequate resources and, often, violence), simplicity (leading a simple life that uses few of the planet’s resources), and stewardship (maintaining the world for future generations).

The conference, attended by Friends school educators and administrations from up and down the East Coast, began with a welcome from Drew Smith, executive director of the Friends Council on Education. The event’s keynote speakers included Drew Smith from Friends Council, Mark Connolly from the RER Energy Group, Paul Spiegel from Practical Energy Solutions, Wade Tomlinson, director of sustainability at Westtown Friends School; and Paula Kline, a former Westtown employee who worked to create a sustainability survey for Friends schools. Other conference highlights included a talk by Matthew Eaton, a Buckingham Friends School parent and LEED certification reviewer for the U.S. Green Building Council, a field trip to nearby Honey Hollow Environmental Center, a talk by BFS’s Hillary Spitzer about the school’s Joint Environmental Mission program, and a role-play game led by BFS teacher Steve Bernardini in which they debated the pros and cons of building a nuclear power plant.

The conference also invited educators to share and brainstorm ways to integrate environmental education in their programming. Jean Partridge, BFS teacher and longtime member of the Friends Environmental Education Network, was instrumental in bringing the conference to the school. She teaches sustainability to her young students, including composting food waste and raising worms that create rich soil to be used to fertilize Buckingham Friends School’s community garden.

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