RENEW – Reaching and Engaging through Nature to Empower Wilmington

“My involvement at DEEC made me evaluate my career choice...I am leaning toward becoming a teacher and going back to school for environmental studies.” – Aionna, camp counselor, intern, TN
“Before Delaware Nature Society I thought nature was gross, and I didn’t like nature, animals, mud or bugs. It interests me much more now. I don’t mind getting dirty. I like getting out there and learning things. Before it didn’t interest me.” – Student

Delaware Nature Society believes that healthy ecosystems are a right of all people, and that conserving the environment contributes to the vitality of a community’s health and well-being. Since our inception, we have been committed to making nature education experiences attainable for all children, starting with the very first environmental field study programs in 1970, taught in the City of Wilmington through a partnership with Wilmington public schools.

We recognize that protecting and enhancing the environment is often eclipsed by other social challenges facing youth in Wilmington; however, we believe that a healthy environment is a critical asset to community, economics, and health.

To deepen our commitment in making nature education more accessible, in 2017, we developed the RENEW program (Reaching and Engaging through Nature to Empower Wilmington). RENEW connects Wilmington youth to nature education programs with a STEM focus, and activities that make learning about the environment relevant and fun. Anchored at our DuPont Environmental Education Center, and through outreach programs conducted in Wilmington schools, city parks, and community centers, our RENEW program reinforces the connection between children and their environment, and how a healthy community contributes to their own health and well-being.

Through repeat visitation and year-long programs, RENEW encourages and elevates participants’ comfort levels with their natural world, ultimately bolstering involvement of individuals to improve their lives, community, and environment. In the past two years, we’ve developed signature programs through partnerships that brings RENEW to youth in Wilmington including:

  • Youth Nature After School Programs
    Programs with youth from Brown Boys & Girls Club and Kingswood Community Center. Through outdoor recreation, gardening, food education, service opportunities and STEM-based activities, students are increasing their connection to nature and their awareness of environmental health.
  • Green Jobs
    In partnership with the City of Wilmington, Green Jobs provides Wilmington high school youth with a summer internship opportunities focused on the environment.
  • Summer Marsh Experience
    Students from Delaware Futures participate in an immersive weeklong work-study program doing outdoor projects that support our restoration and education work. Students also overnight at Ashland Nature Center, hike trails, visit Longwood Gardens, and present their work to friends and family.

Looking ahead, we are developing other work-ready programs and activities to further train teens in jobs that span many fields, including environment, science and hospitality, while developing essential life skills.

Delaware Nature Society extends our sincere gratitude to the following foundations, organizations, and individual donors who have given their support to the RENEW program including BlackRock, SL Gimbel Foundation, DuPont, NASGA, Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, and Guardian Donors June Peterson, Robert Ullrich, Bill Haldeman, Kara Coates, and Drs. Kim Overby and Gary Koretzky.

To learn more about the RENEW program and the many exciting ways you can get involved, please stop by and enjoy our education center, visit DelNature.org/DEEC, or contact John Harrod.