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Outdoor Learning Enviroment

OLE Featured on WHO-13 News - See the Clip Here

The Johnston School Foundation is pleased to announce the completion of our Big Idea: The Outdoor Learning Environment at Johnston High School. A ribbon cutting was held at the OLE on Wednesday Oct. 20, 2021 to celebrate. JCSD Superintendent Laura Kacer, JCSD School Board President Justin Allen, JHS Principal Ryan Woods, JCSF President Jen Haxton & science teachers Sara Kate Howe & Kyla Burns were in attendance.

What is the Outdoor Learning Environment?

· Sara Kate Howe and Kyla Burns, JHS Science teachers, approached the Foundation with an idea

· Converted a retention basin and the five acres around the basin into the Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) – a natural learning place for students

· Provides students with hands-on experiences in natural systems

· Provides an area where students can engage in testing hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data

· Engage in an ongoing design process related to water quality, freshwater biology and environmental diversity

· JHS students were involved in the development of the outdoor area


Site Grading


· Constructed an access point into the basin where students can collect water samples

· Developed pads for the shipping container and classroom shelter


Classroom Shelter


· 20 x 30 foot open air shelter is used as an outdoor classroom space

· Rhys South and JHS Construction Technology students designed and built the shelter

· Features ADA compliant picnic tables made from recycled plastic bags


Storage Container


· 10 x 20 foot shipping container is used to store science class supplies and tools

· Katie Black and JHS Art students transformed the container into a work of public art


Retention Basin


· Stocked with fish courtesy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

· Pond aeration equipment was installed to help control algae



Native Prairie Seeding


· The five acre site has been seeded with native prairie grasses


To Be Completed


· Design and build trail signs – JHS Metals Class

· Install native aquatic plants – JHS Science Classes


Partners in the OLE

· Johnston Community School District Staff

· FRK Architects + Engineers – in-kind design and consulting

· Snyder & Associates – in-kind design and consulting

· City of Johnston

· Sherwin Williams – paint donation

· Des Moines Painting Company – paint donation

· CTI Ready Mix – concrete donation

· Water Landscape Supply – pond aeriation equipment donation

· Iowa Department of Natural Resources – stocked pond with fish and donated trees (spear-headed by Tate Larsen’s Eagle Scout project)

· Iowa Grocery Association – grant for picnic tables


Major Donors - $5,000 to $1,000

· John Deere Financial

· George and Tahra Frampton

· West Bank

· Veridian Credit Union

· David and Mary Moermond

· Bilbrey Insurance Services, Inc.

· CBS Staffing, LLC


Many Private Donors - $500 to $60

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