SSRCE Schools Receive Outdoor Classrooms from WestFor Management Inc.
Classrooms throughout SSRCE have been moving outside more than ever this year. The importance of outdoor learning has recently been highlighted in Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan and while getting outdoors has become the recommendation of public health because of COVID-19, the idea of outdoor classrooms isn’t a new one.
Jennifer Meister is a School Health Promoter with SSRCE and says there has been ongoing work to create additional outdoor learning spaces over the last number of years. This fall, the project was fast-forwarded because of the pandemic.
“It is important to us that we create areas that are conducive to learning, get classes outside, and make teachers and students a bit more comfortable,” says Meister. “Outdoor learning is an overall healthy behavior and we are thrilled to see these classrooms come to life.”
Nearly all the schools in the SSRCE have received an outdoor classroom thanks to the generosity of WestFor Management along with a number of their partners.
Spencer Coulstring is a Community Engagement Coordinator with WestFor Management Inc. She says much of the thanks for these outdoor benches goes to their local contractors who heard about the need for outdoor classrooms and donated all their time and materials, cutting, milling and delivering benches.
“We take two to four staffers to construct them on site,” says Coulstring. “We take a pine/spruce/poplar slab and connect it to two stumps with spikes. It takes a little physical labour, especially when we do more than one in a day, but it is worth it when we get pictures from smiling teachers and students.”
Most of the outdoor classrooms consist of six-foot plank benches that sit atop stumps. A couple schools have received an amphitheatre style classroom.
“We are so grateful for the willingness and dedication that Nova Scotian educators and parents have for the safety and education of the children in our province,” says Coulstring. “This is the very least that we could do. While none of us are educators, we have best friends, parents, siblings, and partners that are.”
WestFor would also like to extend thanks to Carriers, RC Weare, Freeman Lumber, Elmsdale Lumber, Ledwidge Lumber, Back Country Farm & Forestry, Maibec Canexel, Brian Sweeney and his daughter, as well as Groupe Savoie. “These mills, truckers, contractors, and individuals have donated their blood, sweat, and tears to create log benches for students and teachers to use,” says Coulstring.
SSRCE sends a sincere thank you to WestFor and all those mentioned above as well.
WestFor was established in 2016 by the Provincial Government to increase the efficiency of forest management on Crown Land in Nova Scotia. We assist 13 mills in their day to day operations while also assisting the government, the people, and the forests. Our goal is to practice sustainable forestry that benefits future generations to come, both environmentally and economically.