The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) announced the national rollout of the TurfMutt educational outreach program to 25,000 schools across the country on April 19. The TurfMutt education program teaches third- through fifth-grade students the science behind the ability of green spaces to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), release oxygen, cool the air, control dust, reduce erosion, and filter water.


The “face” of the TurfMutt science-based youth curriculum is a real rescue dog, Lucky, who turns into TurfMutt, a caped crusader who champions creating and caring for green spaces in a responsible way.


The TurfMutt curriculum includes science-based experiments on seed starting, photosynthesis and water absorption, worksheets, and a Web game for youth. Parents and teachers can learn more about the TurfMutt education program and see samples at www.TurfMutt.com as well as check out TurfMutt’s blog site on both green spaces and how to help other rescue dogs, like TurfMutt. Fans may also follow TurfMutt via Twitter @Turfmutt and his own Facebook Fan Page.


In 2009, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, Calif., area schools were the first to receive an array of educational materials from Weekly Reader, a publishing company that produces standards-based, research-proven resources to support the development of academic vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing skills, and fluency for all learners.


One school in Sacramento — Herman Leimbach Elementary — participated in the TurfMutt program and subsequently won the TurfMutt Poster Contest which asked students to design a poster that illustrated how they and their family could help create and save green spaces. The first-place winner, for example, drew a picture of their family watering grass only during the early-morning hours to use water wisely.  


“We are always looking for activities and tools that supplement the class work in an engaging way,” said Jenny Williams, fourth-grade teacher at Herman Leimbach Elementary. “The TurfMutt science program allowed students to learn about science in a new, exciting way.”  


“We were pleased and encouraged by the first phase of the program,” said Kris Kiser, EVP at OPEI. “And, now that spring is in full bloom, the TurfMutt science program can really make an impact and help teachers create experiments and lessons on plant growth and water conservation. We’ve made a concerted effort to include more information and science lessons on how to conserve water, and how one can balance growing green, oxygen-producing plants while being water-wise, and appropriate plant selection, which means the right plants at the right time in the right place.” 


“We are delighted to partner with OPEI in bringing important environmental concepts to life — in time for Earth Day (April 22),” said Bridget Johnson, publisher, Weekly Reader Custom Publishing. “It’s a hands-on learning program with experiments, reading content, material for parents, and games — digital and in print. Students and their families get an understanding of the great value of green spaces — and it all starts in their backyards.”


For more information, visit www.OPEI.org.