Fifth-grade students from Prince George’s County Public Schools returned to Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center for overnight programs for the first time since early 2020.
“Hearing the voices of our overnight friends was music to our ears,” said Theresa Cullen, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “It has been nearly three years since our overnight programs could resume and we were so thrilled to see children out exploring and finding joy in nature.”
During their two-day, one-night stay, students are immersed in the natural world, expanding on the science concepts they learn in their classroom and building their connection to the environment.
Activities include a habitat hike through a wet meadow and wooded trails to observe wildlife and identify native plants, a hands-on investigation of the pollinators and decomposers hard at work in the garden, team building challenges, stories by the campfire, and much more.
“After the stress and disruption from the pandemic, field trips give students some sense of normalcy,” said Sarah Kempfer, Alice Ferguson Foundation Programs Manager. “Students look forward to this special experience year after year so the return of these overnight programs allow students the opportunity to enjoy this coveted adventure in the great outdoors.”
Allowing children to touch, hear, smell, and see the natural world empowers them to explore future careers in science, as well as become good stewards of the environment. Environmental education programs at the Alice Ferguson Foundation guide students to develop a lifelong appreciation of nature that will expand their physical, social and emotional well-being.
“I absolutely love these types of field trips because you get to see how much students change in one day,” said Shanna Fletcher-Williams, fifth grade teacher at Doswell E. Brooks Elementary School and alumni participant of Alice Ferguson Foundation’s programs. They become more inquisitive and feel more confident by the time we head home. These experiences are life-changing.”
Fletcher-Williams visited Hard Bargain Farm herself as a student in fifth grade and has participated in the Foundation’s teacher professional development institutes.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation, along with the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, are primary providers of Overnight Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for students in Prince George’s County, a requirement for high school graduation.
“We are grateful to our Prince George’s County Public School partners and appreciate the administrators, educators and dedicated parents and family chaperones who make this possible for every child in our county,” said Cullen.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. For nearly 70 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has shared the wonder and excitement of outdoor hands-on learning with students and residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Learn more at fergusonfoundation.org