Students learn about nature hands-on at Newport Bailey School Forest Park through new partnership

Students learn about nature hands-on at Newport Bailey School Forest Park through new partnership
Posted on 04/04/2018

Elementary students at South Washington County Schools are learning about nature through a new partnership between the District and Carpenter Nature Center. This collaboration hopes to increase elementary student experiences and teacher confidence to use Newport Bailey School Forest Park as an outdoor classroom to support learning about plants, animals, geology and other science-related topics.

Funded by a grant from the 3M Foundation, naturalists from Carpenter Nature Center developed engaging lessons for kindergarten through fifth-grade students for year-round programs at Bailey Forest in 2017. These lessons complement the school curriculum and the state’s academic science standards using the biological and geological environments found in Bailey Forest.

Through this partnership, students began making field trips to Bailey Forest starting in January. Among the first groups to go, kindergarten students from Pullman Elementary School spent a morning looking for animal tracks and learning how animals survive winter weather with a Carpenter Nature Center Naturalist.

“We loved partnering with Carpenter Nature Center as it shows the kids that people outside our school building are interested in nature. We, the teachers, love it as it allows our kids to gain access to expertise that we are not able to provide them,” said Mandy Mach, whose kindergarten class made the trip.

In future trips, the Carpenter Nature Center naturalists will also bring live animals from the Center, such as hawks and snakes, that typify animals found in the woods to help enhance the experience for students.

The idea for the collaboration began when the Carpenter Nature Center recognized the potential to team up with District 833 to use Bailey Forest as a “wall-less” classroom. The forest, located on the northeast side of Newport, is an 80-acre tract of land with forested areas and oak savanna that is co-managed by the City of Newport and the District.

To date, the program has worked with teachers from Crestview, Liberty Ridge, Middleton, Pullman, Royal Oaks and Valley Crossing elementary schools to set up visits for 29 classes that will involve 625 school children.