FRIENDS OF CIBOLO WILDERNESS Overview
Name: Outdoor Classroom
Description: For the past eight years, Cibolo Nature Center has provided a rare opportunity for thousands of school children to have an enriching educational experience in a natural setting. The Outdoor Classroom program offers more than 4,700 school children a life-enhancing experience -- the opportunity to complete science and math requirements while enjoying themselves in a natural setting.
Outdoor Classroom is an environmental education program with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-aligned curriculum for kindergarten through eighth-grade school children from public, private and home-school groups. During the 2008-2009 school year, 4,714 children from Boerne, San Antonio and the surrounding area attended Outdoor Classroom. The program is so popular with children and teachers that classes are booked solid.
Children participating in the Outdoor Classroom learn about the environment while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of nature in a 100-acre natural preserve with four accessible ecosystems: cypress-lined creek, tall grass prairie, spring-fed marsh and evergreen savannah. The experience of hands-on study of real life along the creek enhances what has been learned in the classroom.
Population Served: More than 4,700 school children from grades kindergarten through eighth grade in Boerne, San Antonio, and surrounding towns in the Hill Country. At least 50% of the students are from Title I schools in disadvantaged areas of San Antonio, and their fees and bus transportation are paid by grants from the community.
The Cibolo Nature Center strives to be a leader in conservation in the Texas Hill Country, as well as a model for nature center development nationwide. Its mission is to promote conservation of natural resources through education and stewardship.
More than 20 years after its founding, the Cibolo Nature Center has grown to 162 acres of natural land, now including the Herff Farm land and homestead. The greatest challenge of the Cibolo Nature Center is to ensure a natural area in the midst of the growing city of Boerne for years – and generations – to come. Working with conservation partners, the Cibolo Nature Center protects four miles along the fragile watershed of the Upper Cibolo Creek.
As founder Carolyn Chipman Evans says, “What’s coming to light is the value of the Cibolo as a recharge for the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. We are trying to collaborate on projects that benefit everybody. “
A system of trails that would connect Boerne’s existing Old No. 9 walking trail south to the Nature Center’s Cibolo Canyon area, is one of the goals.
In addition to its conservation and stewardship efforts, the Cibolo Nature Center is committed to providing science-based, relevant environmental education to people of all ages. From its early childhood programs, to its Outdoor Classroom for schoolchildren, to the sustainable living and land management workshops for adults, the Nature Center strives to provide the highest quality programs available. This effort was recognized by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, N.Y, which bestowed its highest award for nature education to the Cibolo Nature Center in 2009.
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