Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Won! Project Learning Tree Grant!

We’ve won a grant to build an outdoor classroom at the Americana Community Center from Project Learning Tree.  Here is what we hope to accomplish and how we hope to accomplish it:

The Outdoor Garden project will benefit nearly 150 students K-6 who are involved in Kids Garden programming which is part of the greater Summer School and Afterschool programming at the Americana Community Center. In addition, it will benefit some 75 community gardeners who are part of the Americana Community Garden and the Louisville Refugee Agricultural Partnership program. Lastly, it will benefit the participants of the Americana Family Education program whom maintain a plot in the community garden.
The Outdoor Classroom will provide a space for environmental education through lessons, workshops, and demonstrations located within our fifth of an acre Community Garden space next to the Kids Garden, which is maintained by the participants of the program.
It will provide a place to sit, workbenches to use, and a chalkboard outside in the environment about which lessons, workshops, and demonstrations are centered. Often, it is necessary to provide Kids Garden lessons inside the classroom to make use of tables, chairs, and chalkboard. Currently, without this space there exists a disconnect between what is being learned and what is being seen. An Outdoor Classroom provides the space to watch and engage with what is being taught. It will make it possible to teach classes on seed saving while the students look at the tomato patch in the garden from which they have just plucked the ripe tomatoes. Lessons regarding compost can be given while the children are able to see the compost. In addition, an Outdoor Classroom will lessen the amount of time it takes to move from classroom to garden.
The Outdoor Garden will be built in the Spring of 2013. We enlist artists and landscape designers in the community to help us design the outdoor classroom. These ideas will be presented to the students, the community gardeners, and the family education participants for their approval. The designs will be voted upon. The Community Garden Coordinator will collect and buy the materials. Community Gardeners, Kids Garden Students, Community Partners and regular Americana Community Center volunteers will provide labor for its construction.
A survey will be given to the students, asking them what they think a perfect outdoor classroom might look like. During fall Kids Garden program, we will spend one class reviewing pictures of other Outdoor Gardens. Students will be asked to describe the specific items of those classrooms that they like and what they do not like. Their ideas will be considered during the design.
Students will review the designs of the Outdoor Classroom and choose which one best suits them and provide further ideas for what they want in the classroom.
When the design has been chosen, students will be responsible for helping to construct the Outdoor classroom with the volunteers, Community Gardeners, Family Education Participants, and Community Partners.
Teen participants at the Americana Community Center will be trained to become mentors and instructors for the Kids Garden program as well. In addition, Environmental Education will make them leaders in their community. For example, education regarding recycling and composting will provide them with the vocabulary and drive to both lead by example and convince others in their community to recycle and compost. Part of the Kids Garden program will include compost and recycling projects in which the students recycle waste. Students will be responsible for creating presentations exhibiting their environmental projects to the Community Gardeners and the Family Education participants.”

WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you are interested in helping design or construct the outdoor classroom, please email

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