FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Wes Kennedy
June 20, 2016 540-428-5386
Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation
Wins $96,500 Grant for FHS Outdoor Lab Improvements
Warrenton, VA—The existing Outdoor Lab located onsite at Fauquier High School (FHS) is preparing to undergo a major facelift, thanks to PATH Foundation’s $96,500 Planning and Program grant awarded to the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation (FEIEF).
The Outdoor Lab consists of an indoor meeting place, woodlands, wetlands, native plantings, composting/habitat areas, and a small pond. Following the receipt of a Dominion Virginia Power grant, the indoor meeting space—a converted residence—was recently resuscitated from a state of disrepair, allowing the Outdoor Lab to be used once again for elementary and middle school field trips.
The PATH grant will be used to improve the building’s interior and exterior as well as the outdoor instructional areas to create an onsite Environmental Studies Academy (ESA), which will provide Fauquier County students of all ages with hands-on environmental experiences throughout the entire year. In addition to these indoor and outdoor structure modifications, funds will be used to purchase curriculum equipment, including aquariums, microscopes, water testing kits, and more, as well as provide for a part-time docent to facilitate ESA activities.
“One of our not-so-long-term goals is to create an Environmental Sciences Academy at Fauquier High School,” said Dr. David Jeck, superintendent of Fauquier County Public Schools. “Because of the generosity of PATH and FEIEF, we are now a little closer to making the academy a reality.”
One of FEIEF’s end goals for this Outdoor Lab project is to significantly increase the number of students—particularly those who are impoverished—who spend time here once the project is complete. It’s estimated that 2,000 elementary school students will directly benefit by participating in Outdoor Lab learning sessions. Environmental education has been linked to increased academic performance across subject areas and improvements in critical thinking skills, student motivation, and civic engagement. In addition, time spent in outdoor activities—which will be emphasized during ESA sessions—is directly aligned with research supporting both education and leisure in outdoor settings.
“The key word with the Outdoor Lab is ‘potential’,” Dr. Jeck said. “Many school divisions would love to have a similar space, so we are very fortunate. Thanks to the PATH Foundation and FEIEF, we will be able to improve the facility significantly so that students in all grades can benefit from it.”
The Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that creates, enriches, and expands educational opportunities for more than 11,000 students in Fauquier County Public Schools. For more information, visit www.fauquiereie.org.