HomePlace-Based ForumOzark Upper Elementary Cuts Ribbon on Outdoor Classrooms, Trail

Ozark Upper Elementary Cuts Ribbon on Outdoor Classrooms, Trail

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Editor's note: This story was provided by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

On Thursday, May 10, Ozark Upper Elementary celebrated the opening of its new network of nature trails and outdoor classrooms with a ribbon cutting attended by many of the 5th and 6th graders the new project will benefit.

The trails–spearheaded by 5th grade science teacher Laura Swick as well as Ozark students participating in the RSP-sponsored GLADE (Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems) program–were funded largely through a $1,325 Rural Schools Partnership Student Conservation grant last November, as well as funding from the Ozark chapter of the Youth Empowerment Project. Three GLADE Students–Ozark High School students Michael Withrow and Robert Powell, along with MSU student and Ozark grad Kelsey Rumley– made the project the recipient of their $500 stipend during their time in the program (you can read more about GLADE here).

The grant monies were used to purchase lumber and signage for the trails, equipment to clear brush and mulch to mark the trail (important because of an abundance of poison ivy), and to fund extras like binoculars for bird surveys and GPS for geocaching.

Classroom2Students put in almost all of the elbow grease to make the trails a reality, Swick says, which makes the trails their own. She also credits the Ozark Upper Elementary administration and PTA for helping leverage the grants into school funding, which included the purchase of a shed for equipment and other much-needed extras like birdseed and maintenance tools.

Greg Swick, director of the GLADE Project, credited the community and school for creating a place that the whole town can enjoy.

“A lot of people came together because environmental stewardship is something we all believe in,” Swick said. “Clean water and a healthy environment is part of the reason we all live here.”