Outdoor & Environmental Education
"Into the woods, each time you go,
There's more to learn of what you know." – Stephen Sondheim
Our beautiful 30-acre campus in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve is our extended classroom, enabling us to integrate NATURE into our everyday learning.
Barnesville’s outdoor and environmental education activities reflect our commitment to spending time outside learning about the world we share—how it works, how nature impacts our lives, and how the things we do impact the environment. Our beautiful 30-acre campus is our extended classroom, enabling us to integrate nature into our everyday learning. Students average 60 minutes/day outside learning and playing.
Barnesville is proud to be the only accredited independent school in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. In our unique location and beautiful setting, we seek to bring our students into direct connection with nature and the agricultural community.
In 2011, Barnesville School was certified as a Maryland Green School under the auspices of the Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education (MAEOE). Only four independent schools in Montgomery County have received this distinction. As part of this certification, Barnesville demonstrated achievement in three areas—curriculum and instruction, community partnerships, and best management practices.
Curriculum and Instruction
- Environmental education woven throughout the curriculum; topics include the Chesapeake Bay, local soil conditions and erosion, energy conservation, gardening and composting, raising chickens, fruit production, leaf and tree biology
- Student-authored field guide catalogs flora and fauna on the school’s campus
- Dedicated science rooms for Lower School and Middle School
- Green spaces for learning
- Greenhouse & Planting Stations – built by alumni for Middle School science projects
- Butterfly Gardens – students cultivate garden space to nurture native pollinators
- Bluebird Nesting Box Trail – sixth grade built and monitors nesting around campus
- Outdoor Classroom – for outdoor learning and cross-curricular activities
- Raised Bed Garden – created with locally sourced wood, hand-milled by students
- Low Ropes Course – for Lower School Physical Education and team-building
- Explorer Woods – for discovery and quiet reflection
- Outdoor overnight field trips to Sheridan’s Mountain Campus and Echo Hill Outdoor School
- Student attendance at the Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Youth Summit
Barnesville has a school-wide partnership with Black Hill Regional Park to enhance outdoor and environmental education across our curriculum. Every month, one grade takes a field trip to Black Hill, and naturalists from the Park visit Barnesville to share their expertise with students. Park naturalists are also advising the school on its multi-year bird study for the School’s Field Guide that documents campus wildlife. You can read more on our blog.
Additional examples of partnerships include:
- Red Wiggler Community Farm – farming and community service
- Calleva Outdoor Adventures – team-building and outdoor activities
- Kingsbury’s Orchard – providing locally sourced fruit
- Land and Nature Discovery – science and environmental activities after school
- Habitat restoration through the support of the Maryland Forestry Board
- School-wide recycling by middle school students
- Apple core composting
- Campus-wide energy reduction