Rocklin Elementary School opens Outdoor Learning Center

Project needed local and national help and took more than year to put together
By: Anne Stokes, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Rocklin Elementary School students now have a place to get their hands dirty. In partnership with several local and national organizations, students worked Tuesday on the school’s hands-on Outdoor Learning Center. Principal Amanda Makis has been working with several agencies for over a year to bring this project to fruition. “I’m hoping the students will get an appreciation for protecting our environment and also learning about some of our native and non-native plants in the various habitats that we have out here ,” said Makis. “Having them be a part of the planting, I hope, will ensure our students will have a vested interest in maintaining and keeping this area alive, clean, and good.” What started out as a mere pathway between the school and Rocklin’s new library has become a resource that will help bring science and social study curriculums to life. “It’s awesome because it gets the kids out of the classroom and experiencing real life situations,” said sixth-grade teacher Jeremy Miller. “They’re seeing what they’ve done. They’re seeing the ecosystem. They’re seeing the habitats of the animals, and now it’s a lot easier [for them] to understand.” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employee Carolyn Kolstad explained to students on Tuesday the various habitats they were working so hard to create. “Part of our program helps support schools getting kids outside for learning. And part of that is planting native plants so they can learn about low-water landscaping [as well as] all the different animals that come to the habitat, from squirrels and raccoons, to bugs and butterflies,” said Kolstad. “So it’s a chance for them to get out here and observe wildlife while they’re learning. “And I think it’s just a great thing for them to be able to experience the dirt,” she said. Partnering with the Rocklin Unified School District on creating the Outdoor Learning Center are the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, South Placer Rotary, Friends of the Placer County Library, the California Department of Education Cal Serve and Koch Kreations Landscaping,