Big Fish, Big Pond
Ducks and chickens, butterflies and birds, fruits and vegetables, and even a pond full of fish… Sounds like a special field trip for school. But at Legacy Elementary in Madison, Alabama, it’s every day.
In 2009, Legacy Elementary School received a State Farm Youth Advisory Board grant to build an outdoor classroom and pond. Over the past seven years, the outdoor classroom has grown close to one acre with plants and animals all around. Every student, kindergarten through fifth, experience and contribute to the pond each day throughout the year.
“The pond is truly the kid’s pond,” shared Keith Trawick, Principal. “They work on it year round. They pull weeds, spread mulch, plant flowers and vegetables and feed the animals.”
The pond is truly unique. People from across the world come to see the pond because they don’t see this at their schools.
Each grade has responsibility for a different part of the outdoor classroom. The kindergartners are responsible for the ten raised vegetable gardens. The fifth graders help the kindergartners with their responsibilities with the gardens.
“I like the fact teachers go to the pond as much as possible and connect our lessons to the pond. We do math and science there.” says fifth grader Lily Judge
Another way students help each other is during Big Fish Day. Every month, twelve fifth graders plan activities and teach the younger grades at the pond.
In addition to Big Fish Day, a Student Pond Committee meets every other week. They clean the pond, fill up feeders, sweep walkways and feed animals. Students learn life lessons each day at the pond.
In the summer, the school hosts a farmer’s market that showcases the outdoor classroom. Vendors come a couple of Saturdays in the summer, and people come check out the pond. Last year, a high school student brought and sold his honey at the market. Profits go to the Pond. Eventually they would love the students to sell vegetables they grow.
“Our school is the only one in the county to sponsor a Farmer’s Market. The Market was a goal we reached and it has been a huge success. Anything we can do inside, we can extend to the outdoor classroom,” says Ms. Janel Ramsden, Legacy Elementary Teacher.
“In the second grade, we raised butterflies in class and set them free in the butterfly garden. It is one of my best memories at Legacy and the outdoor classroom,” says fifth grader Hunter Mason
Every year, the fifth graders have a fishing day. The Alabama Wildlife Federation comes to teach them to fish and they get their youth fishing license. It is one of the most anticipated days for fifth graders.
“We’re very proud to have Project Pond certified by Alabama Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and effort put forth by our students, teachers, and community,” says Trawick. Project Pond is the largest certified outdoor classroom in the state.
Legacy Elementary School reaches more than 700 students each year and thousands of people from the community. Administration, teachers and students take pride in their outdoor classroom and their way of learning. How can you help your school learn through unique ways?