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Bismarck school builds new outdoor learning center

July 28, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — About 170 middle school students in Bismarck have teamed up with a local conservation agency to build an outdoor learning center.

Horizon Middle School students spent this summer building planter boxes and planting gardens of crops, flowers and cacti. The Burleigh County Soil Conservation District also planted about 200 trees, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The school received a $57,000 grant earlier this year from Andeavor refinery company for the project aimed at getting students outside year-round. The learning center is modeled after the statewide conservation program called the Eco-Ed Program, funded by the Department of Health.

The goal is to have the area accessible to teachers at all grade levels, but the center will be open to the public regardless, said Jim Collins, environmental scientist with the Health Department.

“Anybody from the city of Bismarck can go up and walk the trail,” Collins said.

The center will feature five ecosystems in the state: prairie rangeland, wetland, forestry, soil and watershed. Teachers will be able to access lesson plans on the ecosystems.

“Maybe (teachers will) want to do something with ornithology? Good, we can do that,” Collins said. “It’s meant to be built on so an innovative teacher can go out and do a number of things.”

The goal of the project was to put design plans into the hands of the students, said Kate Skibicki, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Horizon.

“When we give that power to kids, it’s amazing what they come up with,” she said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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