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Workday at Heritage elementary to produce site for Alabama Outdoor Classroom

MADISON – Attention will focus on indigenous wildlife, shrubs, trees and grounds adjacent to Heritage Elementary School as volunteers work at Outdoor Classroom Day on Oct. 22.

Heritage is completing the work in partnership with the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program with the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

This classroom will offer hands-on learning for students of all ages in inquiry-based activities in a fun and exciting environment. Currently, more than 300 Alabama schools are developing outdoor classroom sites with this program.

In only one day, Heritage students, parents, teachers and community volunteers will build and install gardens for sensory response; pollination; butterflies and caterpillars; habitats for frogs, toads, eastern box turtles and songbirds; a weather station; and cardinal directions sign.

Work from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. will cycle shifts of students and volunteers through the garden grounds. Work will end at approximately 2:15 p.m., Heritage Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson said.

Heritage elementary qualifies to participate in an Outdoor Classroom Day by its enrollment in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program — a partnership among Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System. This partnership provides technical assistance for schools who want to develop sustainable outdoor classroom sites that teachers can use as effective teaching tools.

This venture at Heritage is the vision of Outdoor Classroom Planning Committee. This committee includes gifted specialists Emily Boshers and Rachel Gibbs, along with fellow teachers Tracy Boyajian, Angelia Hyatt, Joelle Jones, Heather Kell, Jaime Mathison, Melva Tignor and Jennifer Tow.

April Waltz, who works as the alliance’s Outdoor Classroom Program Coordinator, is providing technical assistance to design the site and assist with Outdoor Classroom Day.

During the workday, students and volunteers will work side-by-side to create a living laboratory with various ‘outdoor learning stations’ for students to engage in hands-on activities.

Heritage students can observe and report on songbird and butterfly behavior for the “Journey North” website, research hibernation patterns of Eastern box turtles, study habitat needs for native backyard wildlife and learn about the vital role for pollinators in supporting Alabama agriculture.

Heritage received funds and materials for the outdoor classroom from an Alabama Wildlife Federation Outdoor Classroom Grant, a Walmart Grant and PTA Grant, along with donations from parents and community partners like Bennett’s Nursery and Wild Birds Unlimited.

For more information, call 256-975-1852 or visit alabamawildlife.org and click the link for outdoor classrooms.

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