A year ago, Carl Junction High School began renovations to reopen their Outdoor Classroom utilizing a $10,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.
The Outdoor Classroom suffered significant damage from the 2003 tornado that hit the Carl Junction Schools and community. While the focus of rebuilding and repairing the school buildings was the first priority, the outdoor classroom became overgrown and unusable for students until CJHS Science Teacher Dione Friel and her students began to dream of the learning opportunities for all students that could be available in the outdoor classroom.
Community and school volunteers have utilized grant funds and in-kind assistance for improvements to the outdoor classroom, the surrounding wooded area, and the ponds. Improvements include a new covered shelter building, exploration trails, learning labs and activities.
Students have also developed QR code signage to highlight native species and other important features of the area and they have planted new butterfly gardens and bird habitats that will attract native species. Grant funds also allowed for the clearing of a section to make-way for grassland habitat.