Partnering with the city of St. Peters, SCC is building an outdoor classroom in Rabbit Run Park. Chris Breitmeyer, SCC’s Dean of Math, Science, and Health, is one of the main people in charge.
“My goal is to have a building site there by the spring semester. The overall timeline [for the classroom] is 3 years with the plant communities taking several years to come to maturation,” Breitmeyer said. “This project was funded from state allocation the college received a few years ago before I arrived. The money was dedicated at that time to the creation of an outdoor classroom. In addition we will be seeking grants from local state and federal agencies to complete the project. Private companies are also being solicited for donations of funds and materials to help us reach our goal of creating a great resource for our students and the community.”
The outdoor classroom will be used to enhance student learning. Already, an English Composition class used the park as a base of operation.
“The facility will be open to any course that wants to use it. Primarily this will be science courses General Biology, Botany, Ecology, as well as Astronomy. Many other science classes will use the facilities as well. We will also have PHE classes related to hiking and camping,” Breitmeyer said.
According to Breitmeyer, the college is responsible for getting the structure set up. Breitmeyer will be mainly in charge, but is always looking for volunteers to help ecologically restore the three areas of Rabbit Run Park. A total of 90 acres is devoted to SCC to use for the outdoor classroom.
“We will have an actual building that will serve as an observatory where we will house telescopes and that same building will store some supplies for the other classes. The building will have a roll of roof so that the telescopes can be used. There really will not be traditional “classroom” stuff, maybe a table or bench to process samples or an area to lecture. Outdoor classrooms are really spaces where students can experience nature,” Breitmeyer said. “The majority of my work will focus on restoring three separate fields at Rabbit Run; two will be converted to different types of native prairies. The third will be transformed to provide several different examples of types of ecological communities found within the state of Missouri.”
Breitmeyer said it best: “Outdoor classrooms are about connecting people with the natural world and giving them an opportunity to learn about how they fit into the ecosystem.”