Project Zero - Hilltop Elementary School, Mendham NJ (1/29/12)
Project Description and Benefit
The project is simple: I endeavor to create an outdoor classroom (dubbed the “Outdoor Wilderness Learning Zone” or “OWLZ”) at Hilltop Elementary School in Mendham, NJ. There are several main features of the project:
- Nature trail- a trail cleared from the Steven Crowe Garden to other small “cleared classroom areas”
- Cleared classroom areas- areas cleared with enough room for a class of around twenty children and one teacher
- - Some “zones” only have enough room for the class to sit together, while one will have a blackboard and seating
- Stump chairs- stumps of a tree cut into sections approx. eighteen inches high for children to sit on
- Bird feeders- store-bought bird feeders to draw different types of birds to the area
- Plaques of species- the Hilltop Environmental Club (HELP) volunteered to research and identify different species (only need materials to make the plaques)
This project is to benefit the Hilltop School community but specifically their environmental club and adviser Amanda Sherwin. I have already begun planning and organizing the project and as of now I do not have a set date for the project.
Leadership and Volunteers
With a project of this magnitude, it is easy to show leadership. On the actual day of the project, I can show leadership by organizing volunteers. I am hoping to get volunteers from the school community (with the assistance of the HELP club), family, friends, teachers, and other scouts. Hopefully, there will be a large group of people ready to volunteer. There are also a lot of things to get done, so I shall have to assign “work details”: groups of people who are dedicated to specific goals. I shall also have to disseminate information to volunteers on what tools and materials they need to bring on the day(s) of the project. One thing that will be difficult about leading people working on this project is the sheer number and diversity of people. There will be small kids there as well as their parents and some elderly people might show up as well. Finding jobs for them to do is not hard, but tailoring the jobs to their age group will be.
There are a lot of different possible fundraisers for this project. One in particular is the birdhouse idea. We could sell birdhouse locations on the property at one price range, and sell others for families to take home (Mr. Heller, Principal of Hilltop School, seemed to really like this idea). Each birdhouse could be decorated by the family at the project. Another idea is the sale of firewood from the trees cut up to clear the path and classroom (Locust Tree wood is highly desirable firewood and burns quite hot). I could also pursue backing from the Rotary Club and Home School Association.
Plan of Action
- Investigate boundary lines between Hilltop School (Mendham Borough Board of Education) and the town (Mendham Borough) - who owns what property?
- Take pictures of area and create a sketch of the Outdoor Learning Center Classroom with measurements according to scale.
- Determine the materials and supplies needed for each component on the sketch
- Plan for the resources needed such as wood, tools, labor,
- Labels for native species of the trees and plants affixed to each of the trees, etc.
- These labels will have the native NJ name, the Latin name, and the Spanish name
- Pursue different fund sources to check feasibility (find out cost of birdhouses, ask HSA if they would contribute money)
- Pick date(s) for the project and begin ‘advertising’ for donations and man-power
- Purchase materials needed for each component
- Determine the schedule/goals for the day(s) of the project
- Execute the project on the predetermined day(s)
As chainsaws will be used for this project, those using them need to be in full safety gear. Also, with the possibility of small kids volunteering, the chainsaw operators will be quarantined away from other volunteers to prevent any accidents. In the area of the nature trail, there are many bushes with stickers on them, so volunteers could be at risk of small cuts and pricks. There will be a fully stocked first aid kit and an EMT on scene at all times.