Written by Community Solutions Staff Member David Diamond
McKinney Middle School seventh-graders culminated their months-long “Into the Wild” project with a presentation and public exhibition on October 26 in the historic barn at Agraria, the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions’ farm and center for regenerative agriculture. Much of the students’ research and inspiration came from a three-day camping trip with faculty and parents down the Little Miami bike trail. The students biked 53 miles, camped out for two nights, researched local history, and canoed and waded in the Little Miami River to study macroinvertebrates.
Kate Lohmeyer, health and physical education teacher for grades 7-12, was part of the teacher leadership team for the interdisciplinary project. All the participating teachers were “in some way, avid participants in the outdoors, either focused on exercise or just being in nature,” said Lohmeyer. “We thought it would be great to share that with the kids. It turned into this wonderful experience.” Under the direction of science teacher Rebecca Eastman, students also studied macroinvertebrates in Jacoby Creek on Agraria. Holding the exhibition night in Agraria’s barn “was a great way to culminate the experience for our students,” said Lohmeyer.
“It was thrilling to see families enjoying each other at the Agraria presentations, and also to share in Jacoby Creek research that intersected with students’ ‘Into the Wild’ inquiries,” said Susan Jennings, Executive Director of Community Solutions. Since buying Agraria last March, located just outside Yellow Springs, the local non-profit organization has seen the location’s enormous potential for experiential education. Plans for Agraria include installation of a school garden and construction of a bike path from the high school to Agraria for use by both students and community members. “We’re excited and honored to partner with the Yellow Springs Schools on cutting-edge agricultural curricula for Agraria,” said Jennings. “Their Project Based Learning experience and leadership will help us to develop programs that also benefit students from Xenia, Springfield, and Dayton.”
Lohmeyer also sees many opportunities for schools—not just in the barn, but throughout the 128 acres of Agraria farmland. “There’s a push from all levels, K-12, to try to do things outside,” she said. “The more Community Solutions can collaborate, the more people will want to take advantage of that space. I know people are looking forward to it.”
Help support education at Agraria by donating to Community Solutions on Giving Tuesday, November 28!