Stepping foot onto The Hub Farm at Eno Valley immediately elicits peace. Roosters and chickens strut about, tiptoeing up to visitors, and pecking at bits of food from staff who sit at a picnic table eating lunch. There’s a body of water , a handmade bridge, and goats. It’s a perfect teaching and learning environment, giving students and teachers alike the opportunity to learn in a classroom called the outdoors.
Outdoor learning is a curriculum in the Durham Public Schools. Aspects may include learning and teaching in an outdoor setting, experiencing the outdoors, hands-on learning, improved skills in nature-related sports, survival skills, leadership skills, increased physical activity, personal and social development, gardening and agriculture, culinary skills, and more. Students learn how to grow vegetables and flowers, study wildlife, and enhance their appreciation of the environment. And on a good day, one can get fresh veggies and eggs to take home to use in home cooked meals.
“Outdoor learning is important because it engages a wide array of students, supporting the whole child through sensory learning, tactile experience, and more,” said Hannah Ball-Damberg, an educator at The Farm, which the district opened in 2012.