The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) announced on February 17 the expansion of TurfMutt, an environmental stewardship and education program funded and managed by OPEI’s Research and Education Foundation. TurfMutt is a program for schools and families designed to help youth learn about science and the environment from the perspective of the backyard, community and personal green spaces they enjoy everyday while gaining an understanding of their benefits to the planet when cared for in a sustainable way.
The new TurfMutt program, created in conjunction with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, includes lesson plans for teachers, take-home sheets and learning activities for families, a website and blog, interactive games and a digital storybook. The program’s materials, available at www.TurfMutt.com, are free and aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards for grades K to 5.
The environmental program is built around a real-life rescue dog named “Lucky,” who is “behind the cape” of TurfMutt. After being rescued from a busy highway, Lucky is “pawing it forward” by fighting environmental villains with the help of his team of cartoon superheroes, “The Outdoor Powers.” TurfMutt uses this unique cartoon-based, story-telling format to make science accessible, entertaining, and engaging for children and their families.
“We have found that children identify with the TurfMutt character, and now he is larger than life with additional materials and characters, thanks to Scholastic,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI’s president and chief executive officer, who adopted Lucky.
“Green space matters,” added Kiser. “It matters to our communities and our families. There’s a ripple effect from the TurfMutt program. It’s not just about teaching children science and environmental education. It’s about getting outside and taking care of green space and being part of a community that cares and together making a difference.”
In the classroom materials, TurfMutt and The Outdoor Powers are on a mission to “Save the Planet One Yard at a Time” and they invite children to join them on their adventures and chip in. In the process, children learn how a green space benefits their community. Backyard science activities explore how grass keeps water and air clean and the planet cooler, how plants make rivers and lakes healthier, and how grass helps to prevent water pollution.
“We are pleased to join with OPEI to share the importance of sustainable environmental practices with students across the country,” said Ann Amstutz Hayes, senior vice president, Scholastic. “We have created teachable moments that are fun and appealing for kids, while empowering teachers, students and families to become responsible citizens of their communities and the environment.”
This spring, a “Be a Backyard Superhero” essay contest will invite children to compete for a chance to win a $5,000 makeover for a green space at their school. Contest details will be announced in early March.
TurfMutt’s focus on environmental stewardship and best practices for water and landscape use has been widely accepted among educators, youth and families.
The TurfMutt environmental education program has reached 38 million students, teachers and families since 2009.