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Disadvantaged youths receive outdoor STEM education


Newburgh, New York, often makes national lists as one of the worst places to live, especially for young men. 
That’s why an alternative all-boys middle school partnered with Mohonk Preserve, part of the Shawangunk Mountains, just a few miles north in Gardiner. The students from the San Miguel Academy of Newburgh participate in a program aimed at teaching junior high school kids STEM skills using the natural environment.

The boys gathered at the Spring Farm Trailhead on the mountain for a class in orienteering. Breaking up into teams, they learned geography, navigated their own trails, and shared and tested out their trails with each other. It’s one of five programs in science, technology, engineering and math that Mohonk offers to students in sixth through 12th grades.
Mohonk director of education Kathy Ambrosini says the curriculum was developed for multiple visits in a semester, so students can build on their knowledge and skills in the outdoors.

Teachers with the San Miguel Academy of Newburgh say not only have they noticed a significant decrease in discipline problems since the kids began participating in the program four years ago, but students also have demonstrated a greater retention of information, and test scores have increased.

Jenna first knew she was destined for a career in journalism after following the weekly reports of the Muppet News Flash as a child. In high school she wrote for her student newspaper and attended a journalism camp at SUNY New Paltz, her Hudson Valley hometown. Jenna then went on to study communications and journalism at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.