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Grant will help fundnbsp;outdoor school lab

Ohio environmental officials awarded a grant to Ironton Middle School this week that marks the beginning of a teacher’s project to build an outdoor environmental lab.

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Ohio environmental officials awarded a grant to Ironton Middle School this week that marks the beginning of a teacher’s project to build an outdoor environmental lab.

"This children in town are not used to that much outdoors experience so this will be really good for them," fourth grade science teacher Alice Brown said.

Mrs. Brown said the plan is to use just over five acres near the school as a land lab, which would include a footbridge, ponds, an amphitheater and even old log cabins.

"We’ve been working on this for about a year," she said, adding that the PTA, school officials and other teachers are involve din the project.

The recent grant, $4,807 awarded by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, will help the school reintroduce river cane to the area.

The school will plant about 60 plants this fall, Mrs. Brown said.

River cane is a local plant to the Ohio River Valley, which once attracted a variety of animals and insects and provided a resource to prehistoric people for numerous uses, the EPA said.

The planting project will provide students a hands-on learning experience aided by a botanist and personnel from Ohio University’s Southern Campus. It will include historical uses and habitat of river cane and causes of the decline of the species over time.

Students will gain an appreciation and understanding of endangered species and ways to protect them, in addition to learning science in a lab atmosphere, Mrs. Brown said.

The EPA grant only funds the river cane portion of the project, so the school is continuing to look for more grants, Mrs. Brown said.

The school would like to construct a footbridge for access to the five-acre outdoor lab, plus build a shelter and other facilities, if the right grants and financial assistance can be found, she said.

Once established, the outdoor lab would be open to kindergarten through 12th grade students, as well as Open Door School students.

The EPA favors projects like the planting of river cane, officials said.

A total of eight environmental education projects throughout the state were funded during the EPA’s most recent grant round, totaling $38,073.

Funding comes from civil penalties paid for violations of Ohio’s air and water pollution control laws.

A general round of grants and two rounds of mini-grants occur each year, EPA officials said.

Applications are due next on July 16, 2001, and Jan. 16, 2001.

For more information or a grant application, contact Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education at 1-614-644-2873.