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Merrick-Moore Outdoor Education Progam

Merrick Moore Outdoor Ed On a chilly Tuesday morning, representatives from NC Beautiful and Durham’s Town and Country Garden Club presented a check for $850 to Merrick-Moore Elementary’s Outdoor Education program. The money will be used to create wildlife observation points, add a shade structure to an outdoor learning area and provide the tools to complete a flora identification project.

In his first year as Merrick-Moore principal, Matt Hunt decided to add an outdoor education class to the school.  Hunt recruited teacher Ben Gaspar to head up the project and Gaspar immediately accepted the challenge and proceeded to look for funding in the form of grants.  In addition to the grant received last week, the program also received a $500 grant from Keep Durham Beautiful in December.

“Some students have very little access to a diverse wildlife environment,” said Gaspar in the grant application. “Our goal with this project will be to continue the development of a more naturally engaging campus for our students. While most of the student involvement through these projects will come during the new specials class, Outdoor Education, these outdoor learning spaces will be available to all classroom teachers. The outdoor classroom, orchard, and nature observation points will give our students multiple places to access nature in an inspirational environment.”

While the grant was presented by NC Beautiful, the money to make the grant possible was donated by the Town and Country Garden Club of Durham. Their goal is “to encourage interest in, and to promote the beautification and enhancement of our environment, promote the betterment of our community and make this commitment by way of membership participation through education, through projects and through financial support.” Garden club members Robin Marin and Caroline Dixon, along with NC Beautiful executive director Steve Vacendak were on hand to present the check.

NC Beautiful will continue to offer Windows of Opportunity grants to K-12 teachers in North Carolina. Through the Windows of Opportunity competitive grant, teachers are rewarded for their innovation and creativity as they promote environmental stewardship with their students to improve appreciation of the environment, and, in turn, the beauty of our state.