Outdoor Classroom

Jesse Wright / WVPB

A group of fourth and fifth grade students at Morgantown Learning Academy — a private, non-profit elementary school located in Monongalia County — are sitting at two picnic benches surrounded by a forested canopy on a recent Thursday. This isn’t a special field trip. Every Thursday, students spend part of their classroom time outside with Mountain Stewardship & Outdoor Leadership, or Mountain SOL.


Kara Lofton

About ten years ago, the National Park Service noticed that fewer kids and families were using the parks. And they wanted to change that.

So in 2009, they partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to launch an initiative to help families unplug, get outside, and connect with their local natural resources. The initiative, called Kids in the Park, soon expanded to encompass pediatricians like Erin Regan who are trying to combat childhood obesity, diabetes and excess screen time by writing “scripts” for kids to go outside.

Fourth-graders at North Jefferson Elementary School in Kearneysville, Jefferson County prep dirt for planting in one of their three raised garden beds.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community members are rallying around a school in the Eastern Panhandle. They want to build an outdoor classroom so that kids can get into nature more readily. The goal is to improve academic achievement and provide more opportunities - especially for kids from low-income areas.