Thanks to a $30,000 grant, Knight Elementary School students soon will have a new outdoor learning center that will connect what they learn in class to what happens in nature.
The Lilburn school received the $30,000 grant from two organizations, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Region 4) and the Greening Youth Foundation.
Work on the learning center will begin in March, and once completed, it will include pollination and butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens, reading areas, lecture areas, a water conservation program, and a waste recycling program.
As students plant, maintain, and harvest the gardens in the outdoor classroom, they will supplement what they are learning in science, mathematics, social studies, and language arts classes.
"Our school community is excited to receive this grant which will provide a wonderful new learning tool for students," Principal Toni Ferguson said.
Knight Elementary plans to incorporate a parent-community volunteer program, which will include local farmers, scout troops, master gardeners, and other parent volunteers. The volunteers will assist teachers with lessons and projects that incorporate the garden area.
At the end of the school year, the school also will hold an Environmental Awareness Day for the school and the community to celebrate the year's accomplishments.
It's a welcome addition for everyone involved, and Ferguson believes it will benefit children well beyond the classroom walls.
"There are numerous positive effects related to children engaging in outdoor classroom settings," she said. "For example, students learn an appreciation of nature, demonstrate a greater desire to eat fruits and vegetables, exhibit more patience, learn a greater understanding of teamwork, improve self-esteem, and develop a sense of ownership."
Work on the area will begin soon, as volunteers install benches, water stations, weather stations, and plant beds. Students and staff will begin planting vegetables, flowers, and plants in March.
Want to get involved?
The school is looking for parents and other members of the community to volunteer to help bring the outdoor learning center to life. Contact the school at 770-921-2400 for more information.