Located near Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hixson High School is teaming up with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to give students the opportunity to experience land management responsibilities, conduct conservation projects, study agriculture and ecology, and learn how to operate tools on 80 acres of state-owned land, District Administration reports.
In an effort to expand Hixson’s agriculture program, Principal Lee Sims worked with TWRA to arrange the use of dozens of acres for school programs. After a memorandum of understanding was signed, students began managing some of the land, which includes tasks such as identifying trees, pests and invasive species.
Relationships are still being built between the school, students and the TWRA, with students also renovating a barn for use in history lessons and engineering classes, and clearing trails for science and physical education use.
Using the outdoor world as a living classroom expands learning opportunities by providing a constantly changing environment that captivates the attention of students. It increases activity levels, develops problem-solving skills and helps students grow socially and emotionally.
A collaborative project between University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Park includes rock climbing but also develops peer mentoring opportunities. Results show students who participate develop self-confidence and have higher standardized test scores.
This programming can also help fill community service needs if students take on responsibilities that benefit and maintain the environment.
For example, a science teacher at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach keeps bees on the school's campus, along with beekeeping suits, so students gain hands-on experience maintaining the hives in a program that helps prevent bees from succumbing to Colony Collapse Disorder, which has affected nearly 80,000 colonies. Many bee preserving organizations provide schools with supplies that help sustain hives, all the while providing students with a living classroom experience.