East’s outdoor classroom certified by NWF

East Elementary School teachers Kristi Jackson and Leanna Smith cut the ceremonial ribbon on the school’s certified outdoor classroom Monday, May 15, 2023. (Tiffany McKoy for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – East Elementary School on Monday morning, May 15, hosted a certification ceremony for its outdoor classroom, which has been named a Certified Schoolyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. It was also named a certified Alabama Outdoor Classroom.

East’s Outdoor Classroom Sponsor Leanna Smith said she is very proud of her third-grade class’s achievements. “This has been a collaborative project of teachers, students, parents, businesses and community members. We are so excited for this achievement and look forward to new enhancements in the years to come.”

East Elementary School has joined with over 5,000 schools nationwide that have transformed their schoolyards into thriving wildlife habitats that provide essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. The habitat also serves as an outdoor education site where students can engage in cross-curricular learning in a hands-on way.

“Working toward certification and expanding our garden has been very exciting for our teachers and students,” said Smith. “As teachers, we are honored to be able to provide hands-on learning opportunities for our students in an outdoor setting.”

The outdoor classroom has a frog and turtle habitat, along with a songbird sanctuary, a sensory garden, a pollinator garden and a butterfly garden. They also added a George Washington Carver bed where students are learning about sweet potatoes, peanuts, crop rotation and oxygenating the soil.

After the ceremony, students provided a tour of the outdoor classroom. Each student held a short presentation about their section of the garden.

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