Friends of ECO at Moretown School has received a program grant from the Robbins De Beaumont Foundation.
The nonprofit was encouraged to apply for the grant after its work drew the attention of the family foundation which was awarded in December 2020.
The Friends of ECO (Educating Children Outdoors) began work to increase awareness and funds to sustain the ECO program in 2019. Last February the organization hosted a Forest Festival to which families, students and community members came and enjoyed an afternoon of community sledding, camp fires, outdoor classroom tours, story walks, homemade donuts, hot cocoa and more.
“With this support we were able to not only meet but exceed our fundraising goals. Little did we know that there was a pandemic around the corner and that the outdoor classrooms and ECO program would prove critical to our students’ ability to return to school in the fall,” explained Leslie Pobulinski, secretary of Friends of ECO board.
“This year, in the midst of the health crisis, our small school community has found a way to tap into existing resources and safely learn among the trees. Being outside makes for happier students and teachers, and we’ve made a commitment to expanding outdoor learning opportunities in order to support and take care of each other. The ability to take mask breaks at our sit spots and expand and increase opportunities for children to learn and investigate the outdoors organically are just some of the ways we’ve taken care of ourselves, each other and our community throughout this pandemic. We are fortunate to have beautiful, thoughtfully-designed outdoor spaces to learn, teachers who are committed to spending more time outdoors and a community of supportive families. We are also incredibly grateful to the town, for their allowance of the use of the land directly behind Moretown Elementary School. The land provides an ever-changing natural environment for all of us to make ongoing connections to the natural world,” she added.
On behalf of the board, Pobulinski offered thanks to the Robbins de Beaumont Foundation for their generosity and said that funds, along with the private and public support of sponsors, donors and the like, will help this program evolve, expand and thrive.