Outdoors are a big part of the student experience at our Goshen Campus. 64 acres big, in fact. Whether hiking for a day or backpacking for a week, helping to gather honey from our beehives, harvesting vegetables from the garden, or feeding the chickens, our students are growing and learning. Teaching and demonstrating sustainability to our students is the underlying goal of the St. Francis Garden Program. Here, the walls between indoor and outdoor classrooms are blurred.
Our two hives along our western fence line house our honeybees; one of the world’s greatest pollinators. Inside our building we also have bees – safely enclosed of course. Our observational honeybee hive, and enclosed clear rectangular hive, allows students to study the honeybee colony while stimulating their curiosity about the natural world.
Middle School Outdoor Education
With four (4) trips, our Middle School Outdoor Education Program provides safe and structured educational experiences designed to inspire self-esteem, self-reliance, concern for others, and care for the environment. It is intentionally designed to allow students the opportunity to meet challenges and move beyond self-imposed limitations through responsible risk-taking and hands-on involvement.
With a $7,000 grant from US Fish & Wildlife via Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition we were able to locate and re-establish a native Wetland which had been drained by previous land owners. This project was built over several days with each of our students participating, observing, and learning. Students will use the wetland as an outdoor science classroom, area for artistic inspiration, and because the grant funded nets and rain boots it is also an excellent way for the children to get their feet wet. [link to Wetland Article]
Play is important. Our three natural playgrounds, one each for Preschool, Lower, and Middle schoolers, feature natural obstacles, space for creative play, areas for rest and areas for challenge. [obstacle course photo]
Our chicken tractor allows our chickens to move across a wide area of our grounds enabling them to have fresh vegetation to forage in. This not only gives the chickens more space and some shelter from predators and weather, but allows us to show our students how animals benefit by working the land. In addition, having the tractor gives us opportunity to have additional chickens laying eggs.
In our nature preserve nature is certainly in charge. Undergrowth and invasive plants have blocked many of our trails, preventing the children from fully exploring and taking advantage of the space. We needed a creative solution: goats. In partnership with Kentucky State University, we rent a small herd of goats several times a year and rotate their grazing area. KSU representatives work with faculty to connect this project to our science curriculum.