Lower Saucon Township, Pa. (June 25, 2014) – Construction has begun on the nature trail of the Environmental Education Center project of the Saucon Valley Foundation for Educational Innovation (SVFEI). Located on the Saucon Valley School District campus (comprised of the high, middle and elementary schools) the trail will be used as an innovative, living classroom for students.
With the completion of the path expected this summer, the students will be able to utilize the outdoor classroom in the fall. A covered pavilion will allow them to access this learning center during all seasons. Additional features will be added in Phases II and III. The nature trail project has been made possible due to a number of generous local businesses.
“It is thrilling to get our first real look at what the Environmental Education Center will become and the nature trail is a glimpse at that reality,” said SVFEI chairman Lora Guito. “When the heavy equipment arrived on campus, we knew we were close. Now, we are extremely grateful to our vital partners: IESI, Majestic Realty, PPL, Air Products, Capital Blue Cross and Spirk Brothers, Inc. for their generous support of this innovative gift to the school district.”
Students will study plant and animal life along the nature trail in a number of science classes, with teachers incorporating the Environmental Education Center into their lessons throughout the school year. The area will continue to grow as students plant native species of vegetation, transforming the area into a self-sustaining eco-system.
“We are excited for the opportunities the Environmental Center will provide for our students to have hands on learning in a natural, outdoor setting.” said Dr. Carl Atkinson, Saucon Valley Assistant Superintendent. “The Center will provide valuable experiences across all grade levels as activities are embedded into the district curriculum, particularly in the area of environmental science. For instance, we plan to have interpretive signage throughout the center, which contain QR codes, allowing students at differing grades levels to access environmental information the teachers have prepared.”
Moving from a traditional classroom experience to a natural ecosystem will foster powerful new opportunities for learning. Education professionals are excited to enable students to connect to the world around them through hands-on learning and foster excitement around science.
“We are proud to act as a sponsor on a project that will promote a lasting and meaningful impact on the quality of education for Lower Saucon students,” said Sam Donato, District Manager of IESI, the lead sponsor of the project. “The beginning of construction on the nature trail marks a major milestone, and we look forward to seeing the project continue to evolve.”
SVFEI partnered with LandConcepts of Blue Bell, Pa., for the design and master plan of an Environmental Education Center, on a 3-4 acre undeveloped natural area on school district property, between the school district campus and Polk Valley Park.
The cost of the planning phase was partially covered by a grant from the Majestic Realty Foundation, the philanthropic arm of a company developing an intermodal business facility off route 412.
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ABOUT THE SAUCON VALLEY FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION
The Saucon Valley Foundation for Educational Innovation was established in 2007 by a volunteer group of community leaders and parents who recognize that the quality of an education system and the vitality of the community it serves are intertwined. These residents want to ensure the continued success of our current students, as well as that of future generations. The Foundation’s mission is to achieve and maintain innovative excellence by employing private resources to supplement traditional classroom funding.
The Foundation’s vision is to provide creative and innovative learning opportunities for students and teachers that are beyond the scope of the school budget. The Foundation raises private funds to be used by the schools for projects and creative learning opportunities for all students.
The Foundation funds are not intended to substitute or replace existing taxpayer funding. Instead they are meant to supplement programs and give teachers the opportunity to expand their curriculum with items that do not fall under the school budget.