Harmony School to receive multiple certifications

Harmony School (Tribune file photo)

Alabama Outdoor Classroom Certification, National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat Certification and Monarch Butterfly Waystation Certification to be awarded Sept. 22

LOGAN, Ala. – On Friday, Sept. 22, at 9 a.m., Harmony School will be the second school in the Cullman County Schools system to receive certification as an official Outdoor Classroom School through the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program, the first school being West Point Elementary in 2015. During the certification ceremony, the school will also receive Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat certification through the National Wildlife Federation. It will provide a model for other schools in Cullman County and across Alabama that would like to develop an outdoor classroom and schoolyard wildlife habitat on their school grounds to provide hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities for students.  

During Harmony School’s Outdoor Classroom Certification Ceremony, the AWF will recognize the school’s accomplishments by presenting an official Alabama Outdoor Classroom certification sign and an Outdoor Classroom Activity Kit that includes resources such as field identification guides, magnifying loupes and other educational material students can use during their outdoor classroom field investigations.  For rainy days, students can explore Alabama’s wild places and learn about Alabama’s amazing wildlife and natural resources through the DVD series“Discovering Alabama,” the Alabama Public Television show hosted by Dr. Doug Phillips. 

The Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program, a partnership between the AWF, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), provides technical assistance for schools that want to develop sustainable outdoor learning stations and wildlife habitats that can be used for engaging, investigative activities that allow students of all ages to use multiple-disciplinary skills (including math, science, history, geography and language arts) in a fun and exciting environment.  Harmony’s outdoor classroom provides enrichment activities that tie into their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum and teach students about their environment and natural resources.  In addition, the North Alabama Agriplex provides on-site educational programs and gardening activities in the school’s outdoor classroom throughout the school year. The students enjoy a wide variety of activities in conjunction with their outdoor learning stations, including: 

  • A sensory garden where students learn how to use all of their five senses as they record their observations
  • A songbird sanctuary that provides students the opportunity to learn about the habitat needs of songbirds, their migration patterns and the adaptations they have that help them survive
  • A butterfly garden where students study the life cycle stages of a butterfly and the migration patterns of butterflies like the Monarch butterfly through the Journey North program
  • A frog bog and pond that allow students to study frogs, their metamorphosis and the wetland environments they prefer as habitat
  • A pollinator garden where students learn about the pollination process and the importance of bees and other pollinators for our food production
  • A weather station that allows students to analyze data collected from weather instruments such as thermometers, hygrometers and barometers and anemometers

Harmony’s outdoor classroom development was led by the administrators and a team of teachers including Lea Scott and Rachel Campbell.  The outdoor classroom is a community project with technical, financial and volunteer support from the AWF, the North Alabama Agriplex, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Cullman County Master Gardeners and numerous other community partners providing grants, donations and support.

At present, over 350 schools across Alabama are developing and using outdoor classroom sites through the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program.  For more information on the AOC Program, visit www.alabamawildlife.org/outdoor-classroom-program, or you can contact April Waltz, AWF Alabama Outdoor Classroom program coordinator, at 256-975-1852 or aprilwaltz@alabamawildlife.org.  For more information about Harmony’s outdoor classroom, contact Lea Scott at lscott@ccboe.org.  For more information about the North Alabama Agriplex’s educational programs, visit www.agriplex.org.