Every MLA student receives in-school outdoor education through Mt SOL once a week! Students adventure throughout 11 acres that include an outdoor classroom and trail system, a school garden, a butterfly garden, and a new outdoor amphitheater! MLA students receive hands-on lessons that support specific content standards for each age group. Every year the focus is different. FOr the 2020-2021 year, we will be learning about the migration of the Monarch butterfly, animal tracking, birds of prey, and working on class projects to care for our property.
Read more below for past projects!
We were proud to be the recipient of two grants supporting our outdoor education program. We received a Greenworks grant from Project Learning Tree to support the MLA Wild Yards Project! This project focuses on youth-led creation of wildlife habitat on our property. Working in partnership with Friends of Deckers Creek Youth Advisory Board, the Master Naturalists of Morgantown, and volunteers from the non-profit Aurora Lights, students drafted a wildlife plan, worked with our partners to finalize the plan and create the habitat, and applied for Wild Yards certification through the state!
We also received funding from the Whole Kids Foundation to build 8 raised beds in our garden and connect our garden with in class curriculum for all grades from Pre-K to Eighth. We have a Friends of the Garden working group of parent and local volunteers helping to move the project forward, as well as enthusiastic teachers and students!
With funds from Project Learning Tree's Greenworks! program, MLA students expanded their Wild Yards area with the addition of habitat for the Monarch Butterfly. Through a partnership with the Monarch Sister School Project, student learned about the importance of the Monarch and why it is disappearing. We skyped with students at Leona Vicardio Primary School during Spanish class (levels 4/5 and MS) about the Monarch butterfly as well as the geography of our homes. We made a butterfly garden and painted a new mural showing the life stages of the Monarch. When the Monarch finally made it to us, our citizen scientists were ready to report the sightings!
With funding from the Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation, both MountainSOL afterschool students and our older MLA students learned about different groups (taxa) of wildlife (animals & plants) that are native to our area, how to survey for those different kinds of wildlife and conduct surveys on the MLA campus to create an inventory of flora and fauna in our own backyard. Both professional Biologists and biology students at WVU will present lessons on taxa natural history and proper survey techniques and protocols. The students will then venture out on the MLA lab-land to put those techniques to practice. So far we have had a presentation on predators, another on snakes, and one on falcons and owls! Our students created survey videos as well!