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TN Outdoor Classroom Symposium to come to Lebanon

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By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

Some 300 participants are expected to attend the Tennessee Outdoor Classroom Symposium to be held at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon in May.

Teachers, principals, school system directors, college officials, PTO members and others are set to attend the symposium which is sponsored by the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Ward Center/Wilson County Fairgrounds with support from the Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee State Parks, said Vicki Shelton, a first grade teacher at Southside Elementary School.

Southside is Wilson County’s only Green School and the third TP3 Green School in the state. TP3 stands for Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership.

As part of the symposium, Shelton said, “The first 75 (attendees) who sign up can come to Southside Elementary to see what we’ve done” with the school’s Outdoor Classrooms.

Shelton is one of the “Green Girls,” a group of teachers who have worked with students, other teachers, school officials, parents and the community to make Southside a Green School and to bring the Outdoor Classrooms to fruition.

The Outdoor Classrooms offer 10,000 square feet of space and is designed to stimulate students’ creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.

The Math Garden, for example, includes a 100-square grid, shape garden, fraction garden, weather station, number stones and an amphitheater.

Southside’s efforts, which have included taking steps to reduce power usage, collecting unused cell phones, printer cartridges and reducing paper consumption have resulted in honors from the state and school officials were presented with a Green Flag by the TP3 for their work.

The Outdoor Classroom Symposium will be held in different locations at the Ward Ag Center and will feature 20 presentations including sessions from the Memphis Botanical Gardens, water conservation, grant writing, how to build an outdoor classroom and more. The symposium will be held from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., Friday, May 7 and is open to any educator or persons interested in education.

If you would like to attend the day-long event, you may register online at www.eeintennessee.org beginning Friday, March 5. Registration fee is $75 and includes a packet of outdoor education materials, an opportunity to visit at least 20 exhibits that promote outdoor classroom learning and a TOCS T-shirt.

You can also find out from the No Child Left Inside website which provides statistics on why children need to be outdoors learning. Visit www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=687. NCLI will also be among the exhibitors at the symposium.

If you would like to help sponsor the symposium, you may do so at various levels from $100 to $249, from $250 to $499 and from $500 or more. To learn more about being a sponsor, call Ginger Reasonover at 397-6837 or email her at ginger.reasonover@lipscomb.edu.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

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