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Horizon lauded for best environmental curriculum with BEEP award

Students in Beth Bero's gifted classes at Horizon Elementary School maintain their butterfly garden. Horizon won the "Best Environmental Course or Curriculum" award for Best Environmental Education Programs (BEEP). (CONTRIBUTED)
Students in Beth Bero’s gifted classes at Horizon Elementary School maintain their butterfly garden. Horizon won the “Best Environmental Course or Curriculum” award for Best Environmental Education Programs (BEEP). (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Environmental curriculum at Horizon Elementary School won the 2015 “Best Environmental Course or Curriculum” award for Best Environmental Education Programs (BEEP).

The Environmental Education Association of Alabama sponsors BEEP recognition.

Beth Bero, Horizon’s gifted specialist, has offered an environmental program as part of gifted classes since 2003. “Students may choose Eco-Kids or one of my other classes, such as economics, forensics, medieval times architecture or journalism,” Bero said.

This semester, most students opted for Eco-Kids and computer study. Classes for grades 4-6 last two hours. Third-graders meet for 90 minutes.

More than a decade ago, Horizon enrolled in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program. The campus’ outdoor classroom site was certified as a model for other schools.

Horizon gifted students and parents transformed a barren plot during “Butterfly Garden Build Day.” Bero’s students managed the garden “from concept to creation, helped with handouts, measured, calculated costs, drew designs and created thank-you gifts for volunteers,” she said.

“We turned an unused utilitarian area into a beautiful area that will be a learning station and part of our outdoor education program,” Bero said. Bero successfully received a grant from Alabama Wildlife Federation to help with funding.

Huntsville Botanical Garden presented the Green U award to Bero’s students for their work with the Fun Forest Festival.

These students run Horizon’s extensive recycling, learned to conduct water studies in the aquatic outdoor classroom, created ‘geo-caches’ for other students to learn about mapping and received approval from Madison mayor’s office for “Clean Up Madison” Day.

The Horizon campus also has raised-bed gardens, two nature trails and a creek serving as a living laboratory.

Bero was named Horizon’s 2012 “Teacher of the Year.”

A judging team of independent, environmental professionals reviewed submitted entries for BEEP consideration. BEEP award recipients were honored at the association’s conference at the Alabama 4H Center in Columbiana on March 19-21.

With headquarters in Montgomery, the Environmental Education Association of Alabama is a non-profit group comprised of educators and professionals involved in teaching about the environment.

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