By Melissa Robinson
Crayfish and dragon flies
and guppies, oh my! Third grade students in Henry County schools
participated in the Cubihatcha Outdoor Classroom, marking the
tenth year that school children have been getting a hands-on
nature experience in the outdoor classroom by observing habitats
and wildlife up close.
Third grades students are
fascinated by a snakeskin at the Cubihatcha Outdoor Learning
Photo by Melissa Robinson
Cubihatcha Outdoor center
in Locust Grove is a treasure trove of pristine waterways,
wetlands and woods, spread over 1,000 acres of land and two
miles of trails. Henry County’s third grade classes have spent
the past two weeks supplementing what they are learning in the
classroom with the outdoor science curriculum.
The “Cubihatcha Kids,” as
they are called, were able to spend the day on their field trip
exploring topics like the ecology of watersheds, characteristics
of water, the role of reservoirs, stormwater runoff and wildlife
that live in the area. Students were able to observe water
creatures and even handle a snake or two throughout the
Many of the program’s
earliest teachers and participants came for the 10th anniversary
and luncheon, including former Henry County Schools’
superintendent Michael Surma, who was the science coordinator
when the program began. Surma said he remembers when the trails
were being cleared for the outdoor classroom experience and said
that several members of the school board at that time came out
to lend a hand. He added that it’s very gratifying for him to
see how the program has grown.
“Originally we started
working with teachers in outdoor education over in Clayton
County at their water authority and we kept on trying to move
over here and we eventually agreed that we should start with
students. The development that’s occurred has been incredible,
all the way from the first trail we put in. We hand cut a trail
out here and members of the school board along with members of
the community helped out with that one originally,” he said.
“The water authority’s work out here has been phenomenal to
support the school system, enabling students to see what’s part
of their own world right here in Henry County. There were a
number of individuals in the county that really worked on this
to make it happen.
Tabi Crumbley, who is the
science clerk for Henry County schools, said she remembered the
program from the start and is amazed at how it has grown.
“Back when this began, we
only had 13 elementary schools. Now there are 28 schools that
participate. The students love it,” she said.
Chuck McCarter, Reservoir
and Land Manager for the Henry County Water and Sewerage
Authority, said that this year’s Cubihatcha hosted approximately
3,000 students and over the past ten years, more than 27.000
students have enjoyed and learned from the outdoor classrooms.
He said preparation begins around August in order to provide the
outdoor classrooms to area schoolchildren.
Communications Specialist with Henry County Board of Education,
said that the school district is probably as excited if not more
excited than the kids to have the opportunity to expose students
to the science curriculum outside the traditional classroom.
this hands-on type of learning about things that happen right
here in Henry County, right in their own back yard, so giving
them that experience and having the relationship with the Water
and Sewerage Authority and of course other agencies and state
entities really means a lot from a partnership standpoint,” said
Hardin. “So we’re excited about this and want to keep it going
for another ten years and beyond.”