Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant: Freedom Seekers were environmentalists who learned to navigate the land as they escaped slavery. Songs like “Wade in the Water” and “Follow the Drinking Gourd” remind us that history has always been connected to the land we occupy. The lessons featured in this free curriculum, Freedom Seekers: The Underground Railroad, Great Lakes, and Science Literacy Activities, acknowledge the enslaved Africans who had to rely on environmental science principles in their quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These lessons provide educators with cross-curricular teaching opportunities for middle and high school students.
“I didn’t realize that the Great Lakes were linked to the Underground Railroad at all,” said Megan Gunn, aquatic education specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources. Gunn worked with partners across the region to finalize the curriculum. “I grew up near Lake Michigan and never learned how my cultural roots were so closely connected to the natural world, so I’m excited for the next generation to have this educational opportunity.”
The Freedom Seekers curriculum is a collaborative project between several organizations and schools throughout the Great Lakes. It is part of a professional development effort for educators to increase their knowledge of the Great Lakes and environmental issues while incorporating Environmental Justice Education (EJE) approaches to K-12 teaching. These EJE approaches leverage cross-curricular connections that focus on increasing the awareness of local issues and history in the Great Lakes region.
Center For Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL), Website
Ask An Expert: Hot and Cold, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel
Diets of Lake Michigan Salmonids, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Informing the Development of the Great Lakes Region Decision Support System, The Education Store
Salmon and Trout of the Great Lakes: A Visual Identification Guide, The Education Store
New website: Eat Midwest Fish, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Scientists bring the Great Lakes to students learning from home, Got Nature? Blog
ID That Tree: Alternate Leaved Dogwood, Got Nature? Blog