State, national agencies certify Rainbow Outdoor Classroom

MADISON – At the dedication of Rainbow Elementary School’s Outdoor Classroom, a quote on a banner summarized the objective: “Every child is a different kind of flower and, all together, make this world a beautiful garden” . . . by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi.

After months of volunteers’ ‘sweat equity,’ the Rainbow Outdoor Classroom received certification as both a State Outdoor Classroom and a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat.

Officials who presided at the ceremony were Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols; Rainbow Principal Brian Givens; Madison Board of Education members Alice Lessmann and Tim Holtcamp; and Madison City Council members Ranae Bartlett, Karen Denzine and Connie Spears. Teachers, parents and school staff members also attended.

Speaking at the dedication, Tim Gothard, who is Executive Director of Alabama Wildlife Federation, issued the certification documentation and said, “The mission of the Alabama Wildlife Federation is to promote the wise use and responsible stewardship of our natural resources.”

Satisfying that stewardship, the Rainbow Outdoor Classroom features learning stations that promote different conservation and ecological themes:

* Sensory garden – Filled with plants that allow students learn to use their five senses as they record their observations.

* Songbird sanctuary — Provides students with ways to learn about the habitat needs of songbirds, their migration patterns and adaptations that have helped them survive.

* Butterfly garden and Monarch waystation – Includes the Journey North program for students to study life cycle stages and migration patterns of butterflies like the Monarch.

* Pollinator garden – Explains the importance of bees and other pollinators for our food production.

* Log decomposition station – Shows the role of decomposers as students learn about food webs in ecosystems.

* Frog bog and pond – Assists students’ study of frogs, their metamorphosis and wetland environments as their habitat.

* Weather station – Assists students in analyzing data collected from weather instruments, such as thermometers, hygrometers, barometers and anemometers. This station was the final project for Drew Crocker, a Rainbow alumnus and Bob Jones High School student, to earn the Eagle Scout rank. Crocker said he wanted the young students to see and understand different tools that real meteorologists use to calculate actual atmospheric conditions.

In addition, the Rainbow campus now has a new outdoor stage with natural log seats for assemblies or lectures about science-related topics.

“After the formal ceremony, students fanned out to the various learning stations to explain the exhibit and its teachable takeaways,” John Peck said. Peck is MCS Public Relations Manager.

Making this long-term project viable were the school system’s Partners in Education program with generous donations largely from Eagles Rising Veteran Consulting and HKSC Fund.

For more information about Alabama Wildlife Federation, visit alabamawildlife.org.

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