Collaboration builds a school nature center
Amity Elementary Center (Daniel Boone Area SD) school garden was first started in 2004, but had suffered from neglect over recent years. Several teachers started an initiative to restore the garden and build a companion nature center, work for which was completed in 2016. Teachers Jackie Antolic, Ed Key and Lenny Smith headed the initiative, consulting with a local principal Bill McKay (Twin Valley SD). To start the project, donations from local businesses were sought, and a highly successful Boosterthon fundraiser garnered more than $34,000.
Local Eagle Scouts rehabilitated and made the garden ADA-accessible, rebuilding the bridges along the trail while outfitting them with safety railings, and building unique “knock-down” picnic tables for use in the outdoor classroom. The garden was cleaned and beds readied for spring planting, the trail was cleared of underbrush and fallen trees, a shed was moved, and sets of wooden bleachers retrieved from an abandoned baseball field were refurbished and placed along the trail at points of interest.
Through the hard work of many volunteers and partners, AEC now has a functioning garden, an all-weather trail, two bridges over the stream, and a pavilion that also serves as an outdoor classroom. The PTC, the Student Advisory Committee, the Parent Advisory Committee, local volunteers including the staff from neighboring River Rock Academy, and the local Boy Scout troop all were essential to development the facility. Future plans include a bird-watching station and a butterfly house. When people come together with a common purpose, anything is possible!