PECO Announces Major Grant for Outdoor Education Program in Pottstown, PA
Representatives of Natural Lands Trust, the Pottstown School District, and NorthBay, a Maryland-based nature center, announced a major grant today from PECO and the Exelon Foundation in support of a new and innovative outdoor education program in the District.
Launched last fall, the program—called Powered by Nature—emphasizes exploration in nature, authentic scientific investigation, and character development in order to improve essential academic skills and help students understand that the choices they make have the power to transform the planet, their community, and themselves. It will serve all fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students in the District. And it will all happen outside.
Liz Murphy, senior vice president of regulatory and external affairs at PECO, announced the $150,000, three-year grant before a crowd of students, teachers, and school district leaders at Rupert Elementary School. “At PECO, we power programs and initiatives that are helping our youth achieve a well-rounded education and that provide a broad spectrum of opportunity,” said Murphy. “We are proud to join Natural Lands Trust and the Pottstown School District to provide this important environmental educational experience for local students.”
“The fate of our environment and our communities ultimately depends upon the decisions we make on a daily basis,” noted Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “Those choices are at the heart of this curriculum. We have enjoyed a long partnership with PECO and time and again they have chosen to invest in making our region green. We couldn’t be more grateful for their leadership support of Powered by Nature.”
The three-year curriculum began this school year with the fourth-grade students who studied habitats and water quality on their school yards, at Memorial Park in Pottstown, and during a field trip to Natural Lands Trust’s Crow’s Nest Preserve in nearby Elverson. They will close out the year with a service project in a local park. Next fall, both the fourth and fifth graders will participate in the program. During the following year, all three grades will be involved and the then sixth-grade students will spend a week at NorthBay’s residential nature center on the Chesapeake Bay.
“The students, staff, and entire Pottstown community are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to interact with our environment while exercising 21st-century decision making skills, and experiencing character education at the same time,” said Stephen Rodriguez, superintendent of the Pottstown School District. “PECO, along with Natural Lands Trust, are making an investment that will last for generations to come.”
Keith Williams, executive director of NorthBay, noted that the organization “is thrilled to provide this learning opportunity for Pottstown students and is grateful to PECO, Natural Lands Trust and Pottstown School District for making this possible. Students will have multiple outdoor learning experiences over the course of three years, which is unheard of in outdoor education and this program serves as a national model. This truly shows the power of partnership.”
During the remarks, a class of fourth grade students presented PECO with a special song they had prepared for the occasion. Afterwards, the students offered a demonstration of one of the learning projects they undertook this year.
Additional support for Powered by Nature is being provided by J.P. Mascaro & Sons, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, NorthBay, and the members of Natural Lands Trust.
Natural Lands Trust is a non-profit organization that saves open space, cares for natural resources, and connects people to the outdoors throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. More than 2.5 million residents of southeastern Pennsylvania live within five miles of lands under the group’s permanent protection. This includes a network of 43 nature preserves that provide thriving habitat for wildlife and places for people to connect with the natural world.
NorthBay is a leading outdoor education and character development program serving more than 14,000 public school students each school year in an innovative residential camp as well as day trips. The NorthBay mission is to challenge middle school students to realize that their attitudes and actions have a lasting impact on their future, the environment and the people around them by using Common Core and Next Generation Science standards, character development, and the outdoors as an integrating context.
PECO, founded in 1881, is Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PECO delivers energy to more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 516,000 natural gas customers in southeastern, Pennsylvania. The company’s 2,500 employees are dedicated to the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and natural gas as well as enhanced energy management conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. PECO was named 2017 Best Mid-size Employer in Philadelphia by Forbes Magazine. The company also has an estimated annual economic impact of $4.3 billion in Pennsylvania, supporting more than 8,700 local jobs and producing $732 million in labor income. PECO is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s only Fortune 100 utility and leading competitive energy provider. For more information visit PECO.com, and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.