Outdoor Education Program Blossoms at Limestone Community School

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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A new program at Limestone Community School aims to get kids out of the classroom and into the outdoors. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.

“We have a building full of innovative teachers that are always trying to step up and do what’s best for kids.”

Ben Lothrop, Principal of Limestone Community School says, when two first year teachers, Caroline Reed and Hogan Marquis approached him with the idea of an outdoor education program, they started looking at how to give the kids experience’s they normally wouldn’t get in a classroom setting.

“We were given the task at the beginning of last year to come up with some sort of elective period and I’ve always enjoyed being outside and being in nature, I’m a avid hiker and I said “You know what, I think I’m going to do some sort of outdoor learning” and Hogan and I were having a discussion before we had kids last year and he said “I was thinking of doing something similar” so from there we just decided to collaborate and work together to pull in different standards and talk about activities.” says Reed.

“We walked around the property of the school and tried to figure out what were some opportunities for us to build projects to learn outside and maybe build some things outside so that these kids could have a legacy.” says Marquis.

What started out as an idea to get kids out of the classroom, blossomed into a class that many of their students regard as their favorite class. Last year they introduced their students to Cross Country Skiing, Ice Fishing, Making Maple Syrup, fixing up nature trails and much more on limited funding. After seeing the success of their program, they applied for a contract with the Maine Department of Education and were awarded 250,000 dollars to further expand.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for our students here at Limestone Community School and what I love about it is it’s going to give us the ability to purchase equipment and materials to create this outdoor program and expand it, and it’s basically a one year opportunity but the stuff that we purchase and the program that we put together is going to benefit the kids here in Limestone for years to come” says Lothrop.

Though they still have to iron out the details with the Department of Education before the funds are released, the two educators say one of their goals is to have a school farm on campus.

Caroline Reed – Teacher, Limestone Community School

“We really have dreams to have a diverse farm with vegetables and berries and we’d really like to get some apple trees and teach kids about farming and regenerative, diverse farming.” says Reed.

“You wouldn’t think it but our kids are going to be innovators and leaders in the future. They’re learning to care about what’s around them and be protectors of the Maine outdoors, and I hope a lot of them are learning to love Aroostook county and see themselves here in the future. So yeah, we’re building the future of Aroostook County with these kids. " says Marquis.

“It’s going to be something that the community is going to be able to see, it’s going to be solid and concrete and it’s going to take us some time, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we still have a lot of work to do with the DoE to move forward with this contract, so it’s not going to happen over night but my hope is this fall, kids are going to see some immediate benefits of the work they’ve done here, so it’s going to be really cool” says Lothrop.

Limestone Community School starts classes on Wednesday the 24th of August.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8