SPARK, Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge, is an innovative, experiential family learning program based on nature and the environment. Designed for families with young children, the program’s underlying philosophy is that learning together as a family outdoors can be fun and purposeful for all involved.

SPARK’s main objectives are to introduce children and their families to nature, to encourage good reading comprehension while introducing basic math and science concepts, and to foster positive learning interactions between parents and children.

Using nature as a springboard works exceptionally well.  It provides a common denominator, bringing together families from diverse economic, educational and ethnic backgrounds. The hands-on experience of enjoying the outdoors becomes a shared adventure as the parents (including many fathers) and children discover and discuss all they observe and experience.    

There are three key elements of SPARK:

During the 2012/2013 program year SPARK collaborated with the Accomack County Schools and the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation.  SPARK was funded this year by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, also known as the "license plate program." SPARK is currently looking for funding for the coming school year.

Also this year, SPARK partnered with the Marine Science Consortium to hold a year-long SPARK Creek-Watchers (SCW) program; this was supported by a TogetherGreen Fellowship Grant funded by Audubon and Toyota. This exciting SCW program won a Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper award.

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