As of 2021, donations are now being accepted via the Rotary Club of Falmouth, Cape Cod, a registered 501(c)(3) at their website via their DONATE Button. Please make sure you choose “Youth-Outdoor Classroom Fund.” You can make a donation via Venmo as well, but please again make sure you add a description stating that the donation is for "outdoor learning" and if earmarked for a specific school please include that as well. You can also mail the check to alleviate credit card fees to Rotary Club of Falmouth: PO Box 293 Falmouth, MA 02541 and we ask that you add a memo to restrict the funds for the "Outdoor Learning Project".
One way to keep children engaged, enriched, and safe during a pandemic is with ample outdoor learning opportunities. It is well documented that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to remain outside as much as possible when interacting with others, in addition to wearing masks and proper hand-washing. The Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee formed in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to our students, teachers, staff and ultimately our entire Falmouth population by creating outdoor learning spaces to each of the seven Falmouth Public Schools. Outdoor learning reduces the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature. We have also begun a partnership with the 300 Committee in an effort to utilize all the amazing conservation land we have in our community.
The Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee, in collaboration with the Falmouth Public Schools, were pleased to announce in June 2021, that six all-weather tents have been installed at all but one of Falmouth’s seven public schools. The last of the tents is scheduled to be installed at Mullen-Hall Elementary School by the end of the summer.
The purchase of tents was made possible by generous community donations and funding from the schools. The tents are WeatherPort Shelter Systems brand, can withstand New England weather and have a lifespan of 15-20 years. The total amount raised for the overall project to date exceeded $100,000. Fundraising efforts remain ongoing with the goal to raise another $100,000 for a both second set of tents for the schools as well as curriculum support, enrichment activities, professional development, and supplies.
In August 2020, the Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee, a subcommittee of the Rotary Club of Falmouth Cape Cod formed in an effort to help keep students safe during the pandemic by creating outdoor learning spaces. Inspired by the reopening
committee put together by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lori Duerr and her willingness to work together and problem solve, members of that same committee took off and running with the idea of outdoor education as a chance to not only keep students safe during a pandemic but also enrich student learning during and after. With the encouragement and support of Dr. Duerr and her administration, the committee flourished. Administration, principals, teachers, parents and students collaborated
together to prepare for the reopening last fall as well as met weekly as the school year progressed. The schools also contributed towards the purchases of the tents. As the project has grown, the administration has looked to hiring a Learning Partnership
Specialist who will help with the project as it grows in partnership with the community.
“I am so grateful to everyone for their support especially Dr. Duerr, her administration, our dedicated teachers, the parents, the students, community volunteers and businesses. The pandemic did bring about blessings in the form of allowing our community to come together and problem solve for the good of our children. It has been overwhelming to see how the town of Falmouth has risen to the call of service above self, a Rotary motto, during a time filled with uncertainty," said Amy Leonardi, the committee Lead Parent.
Funds were raised for supplemental materials including white boards, picnic tables, clipboards, sanitizing wipes, and more. Hundreds of volunteer hours were also logged to cut and set up tree stump logs, create a tree stump interactive math game, setup sun sails, clean up gardens, deliver goods, line fields, make yoga mat seating, and more recently, install tents. To date the committee has put in over 1300 hours of volunteer hours including close to 300 hours of time setting up the outdoor classroom tents thanks in large part to the dedicated facilities teams from the schools.
“This project, which aligns with so many of Rotary International areas of focus was featured in national news stories in the NY Times as well as international news through CBC Canada,” said Falmouth Rotary Club President, Paul McCadam. “Our club has a
major commitment to the youth of Falmouth and it is our goal to help the youth become the leaders of tomorrow.”
COVID-19 transmission is greatly reduced when individuals are outdoors and studies have shown that children are more engaged when learning outside. Outdoor learning reduces the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning
opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature. It also helps to have a more place-based education approach that involves making connections to global context through an interdisciplinary approach while using the
community as a classroom.
The Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee is excited to see this effort come to fruition and for what the future holds with this community wide collaboration. The committee joined by teachers around the district are entering the next phase of support for the
students and staff. A resource page is being constructed on the website to help support teachers as needed. In addition, partnerships with local nonprofits are ongoing and outdoor classroom curriculum is being designed to help assist teachers with this new opportunity.
The Rotary Club of Falmouth and the Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee would like to like to thank our Sponsors and Partners for their continued support:
300 Committee; Anonymous 1; Accurate Fence; Apache Mills; MBL; Cape Cod Aggregates; Cape Cod Electrical; Cape Cod Five; Cape Cod Health Care; Cape Cod Moms; Chick-Fil-A Plymouth; Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod; Eastern Bank; Falmouth DPW; Falmouth Road Race; Falmouth Toyota; Falmouth VIPS; Gary DellaPosta, CPA; Good Grief Cape Cod; Hamilton Tree & Landscaping; Inman Tree; Inspiration is Everywhere; John LeBlanc Construction; Kerfoot Technologies; Martha’s Vineyard Bank Charitable Foundation; Murray MacDonald Insurance; Nissa Morton Yoga; Pamela Heylin, Realtor; Pie in the Sky Bakery; Pure Warrior Cape Cod; Richards Designs; Robert Minshall Painting & Papering; Recovery Without Borders; Remy’s Rainbows; Rooted Cape Cod; Scoutlier; Supreme Pizza; The Valle Group; The Yoga Collaborative; Three Streams Yoga; Turning Pointe Dance Studio; Tuttu4u Accessories; Uptown Body; Vidal Construction; and WHOI.
The committee website is: www.falmouthoutdoorlearningproject.com where you can view their sponsors and keep up to date on their current activities and successes. You can donate to help the committee financially via Rotary Club of Falmouth, Cape Cod, a
Please reach out to the committee with questions and details surrounding the tent install, to get involved and plans for the future. Materials can be donated and volunteers can sign up by reaching out to our lead parent, Amy Leonardi.
Thank you to the following sponsors & partners who are making this project possible.