HOPEWELL TWP.: Bear Tavern designated as an ‘eco-school’

Bear Tavern Elementary School is the 21st school in Mercer County to join Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey, a partnership between National Wildlife Federation and New Jersey Audubon.
Principal Christopher Turnbull made the decision to join Eco-Schools USA as a way to build environmental awareness and incorporate sustainability into the curriculum.
Their first eco-project will be a schoolwide effort to raise rainbow trout and release them into the wild at the Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson. The trout are being used as a way to teach everything from science and math to writing, reading and art.
Students helped Mr. Turnbull and guidance counselor Kevin Kerwin set up the tanks and prepare them for the fish. Kids walked into school to see a large sign counting down the days until the eggs arrived.
Now that the eggs are here, fourth graders are responsible for caring for the fish, testing water quality and collecting and recording data on a daily basis.
Parents can follow along with the Bear Tavern Trout Blog.
“The Trout in the Classroom program has been a huge help in getting students, and adults, really excited and engaged in learning,” said Mr. Turnbull. “It has helped to make science, art, language arts, math and geography really fun for the children. It has had a huge impact on our school.”
Bear Tavern students also help maintain an onsite food garden, partake in a TerraCycle recycling program and create art projects throughout the year using recycled materials. The school’s butterfly garden is also recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat with National Wildlife Federation.
Bear Tavern has its sights set on earning Eco-Schools highest honor, the Green Flag Award. Only five schools in New Jersey hold this award. One of them is Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Lawrenceville, where Mr. Turnbull was previously the principal. With 21 registered schools, Mercer County has more Eco-Schools than any other county in New Jersey.
Eco-Schools, an international program hosted by the National Wildlife Federation in the United States, is coordinated by New Jersey Audubon in New Jersey.
Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey supports and directly aligns with Sustainable Jersey for Schools point-based system.