A hands-on exhibit demonstrates how art students can collaborate to learn about climate change and generate changes in attitudes. The exhibit, “Connecting Students to Climate Change through the Arts,” includes book arts, haunting photographs, and poignant poetry and prose—all created by middle and high school students. Book arts are three-dimensional works of art, which can include scrolls, fold-outs, or photographs fashioned into a small book. The exhibit is receiving national attention, including magazine coverage in the Oregonian’s Pearl Magazine and a video clip about the project on You Tube.

Beaverton Arts and Communications Magnet Academy students combined a science curriculum on climate change with art education and spent a day exploring nearby Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge near Portland, Oregon. They came away with a better understanding of the effects of climate change and how human habits affect wildlife habitats. They realized through their project how climate change impacts plants, wildlife, streams and rivers, forested wetlands, the community, and the world.

As their project developed, students’ own attitudes changed. Posted exhibit quotes include: “I feel uncertainty, fear, and anger regarding climate change,” said Farber; “Plant a tree when you cut one down,” said Natalie; “I can help stop climate change by recycling, walking, and riding a bike to places instead of always using a car,” said Megan. One haunting photograph captured a stark modern glass office building with four wind turbines looming in the background with no trees and no birds in sight.

This project was made possible with the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region’s Connecting People with Nature program; a non-profit organization, My Story Workshops; Friends of the Tualatin River Refuge; volunteers; and teachers.

The project continues to change audiences’ attitudes through a video posted on YouTube. To learn more and to hear compelling thoughts from the participating students, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfm2gctZ-DE.

Kathy Sholl
Division of Education Outreach
National Conservation Training Center
February 13, 2012