The Rural Schools Collaborative has awarded Ember Swan and Linda Swayne, primary teachers at French Gulch-Whiskeytown School, a $750 Grants in Place award for a native plants and butterfly garden for their outdoor classroom. The plants will be purchased from the California Native Plants Society, and Whiskeytown National Park and Recreation Area staff will provide instruction for students in correct planting procedures. Students and community members will help prepare the land, and the garden is expected to be completed by next November. The French Gulch-Whiskeytown School award was one of 36 that was chosen from more than 125 applications to the Grants in Place program.
The Rural Schools Collaborative is a national organization that believes in strengthening the bonds between rural schools and communities through place-based engagement, rural philanthropy, and developing teacher-leaders. The Rural Schools Collaborative’s Grants in Place program is a modest grant program that encourages rural teachers across the country to engage their students in place-based learning. Members of the Collaborative believe that place-based education gives meaning to learning, strengthens the bonds between school and community, and instills pride in the cultures and histories of rural places and small towns.
Ms. Swan and Ms. Swayne were presented with a Grants in Place poster award on May 25, 2017, by representatives of the Chico State-North State Together Hub, one if six inaugural regional hubs for the Rural Schools Collaborative. Chico State-North State Together was represented by Ann Schulte of California State University, Chico and North State Together's Sharon Strazzo, Kevin O'Rorke and Kate Mahar.
Schulte reported that everyone had a wonderful time on what was a glorious day in northern California. "We were standing on the patch of ground where they will put the outdoor classroom. We had a lovely discussion about fences to keep the deer and mountain lions out, fighting off rattle snakes, how the K-2 students watched as an eagle swooped down and picked up a rabbit for dinner, how the kids designed the play ground, and many other lovely stories about that place. Just look at the view (picture above) - still some snow on the Trinity Alps behind us."
Ryan Fowler (far left) of the The New Teacher Project joins Mahar, Strazzo, Swan and O'Rorke to celebrate this Grants in Place-funded Outdoor Classroom Project. Thanks to RSC Advocate Ann Schulte for providing us with information and photographs for this story.