“The Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation is making the reopening of the Outdoor Lab a reality for students in this county. We wouldn’t have this without the Foundation’s support, which has provided the impetus for starting the Fauquier Environmental Studies Academy.”
Pam Pulver, Science Supervisor
Much progress has been made on renovating the Outdoor Lab facility located behind Fauquier High School, thanks in large part to a grant from the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation. Under the instructional leadership of Pam Pulver, Science, Health and Physical Education Supervisor, and the expertise of Greg Livesay, Director of Facilities and Construction, and Fred Lester, Area Building Manager, the Outdoor Lab’s building and grounds have received a much-needed facelift. Some of the work is immediately obvious, such as the construction of a brand-new deck, but other equally important items, such as the shoring up of the joists beneath the building, may not be as readily apparent. All the windows have been replaced, a wall has been taken down to open up space for computer stations, conference tables, and fish tanks, floors have been stained and waxed, and the walls have received a fresh coat of paint. Outdoors, the paths around the pond have been cleaned up, a small footbridge has been installed, and a gazebo to house an outdoor learning station is expected to be in place by the end of November. One challenge that remains is rebuilding a dock at the edge of the pond. The Facilities and Construction staff are exploring several options for this project.
All of this work has been done in order to support environmental education programs for Fauquier County students. The school division has recently hired Doug Harpole to be the Outdoor Lab Docent with funding from Fauquier Excellence in Education. Mr. Harpole will be starting his duties at the end of November. Based at the Outdoor Lab, Mr. Harpole will introduce K-8 students from around the county to environmental studies, using a curriculum based on the theme of change. The curriculum supports Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) and incorporates activities developed by Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Department of Forestry, Project Learning Tree, and Project WILD. During the cold weather months when children can’t come to visit the Outdoor Lab, Mr. Harpole will bring the outdoors to them, providing classroom demonstrations around the school division.
During the summer months, the Outdoor Lab will host environmental camps for students in grades 3-5, with a plan to add a camp for middle school students during the summer of 2017. The most ambitious goal of the school system is to open the Fauquier Environmental Studies Academy in the fall of 2017, if additional grant funds can be secured. Ninth graders would be able to become immersed in environmental and earth sciences and geology, in addition to the regular core curriculum. The Outdoor Lab facilities are critical to making this instructional program a reality.