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Local school awarded funds

Uniontown Elementary School has received a grant totaling $500 from the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Outdoor Classroom Program. The purpose of the grant is to help with the development of a butterfly garden on the school’s campus as a part of their outdoor classroom. By developing a butterfly garden at the school, teachers will capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and connect it to Alabama State Course of Study Objectives and the Alabama Math, Science and Technology (AMSTI) program. They will also be able to provide quality conservation education experiences through hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences that focus on Alabama’s natural diversity. AWF’s Board of Directors member, Clyde Earnest made the presentation on behalf of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

The AWF Outdoor Classroom Grant is a competitive grant program open to any Alabama K-12 school that is enrolled in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom program. Each year, two outdoor classroom learning station topics are selected for grant development.

During the current school year, the grant topics selected for development and funding where Woodland Environments and Attracting Birds and Butterflies. During the coming school year (2009-2010) the grant topics will be Youth Gardening and Aquatic Study Areas.

The Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program, a partnership between the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System, provides technical assistance for schools who want to develop sustainable outdoor classroom sites that can be utilized as effective teaching tools.

During a time when schools are struggling to find new methods to raise students’ test scores, the Outdoor Classroom Program provides hands-on, outdoor learning opportunities that allow students of all ages to utilize multiple-disciplinary skills (including math, science, history, geography, and language arts) in a fun and exciting environment.

Outdoor Classrooms can include a wide variety of components including raised bed gardens, theme gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, butterfly gardens, wildflower meadows, forest communities, nature trails, aquatic studies areas, ponds, bog gardens, courtyards, animal tracking boxes, weather stations, and much more.

At present, approximately 200 schools across Alabama are developing outdoor classroom sites through this program.

For more information on the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program, visit Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Web site at www.alabamawildlife.org and visit the Conservation Education link.