A Pine Barrens Primer: The Science, Nature, and Culture of the Pines

This cross-curricular project was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Hipp Foundation to reconnect students to the past culture, environment, and sciences of the Pine Barrens in Atlantic County. Mullica Township School District students investigate the unique flora and fauna of the region through inquiry-based activities and experiential learning under the direction of fifth-grade teacher Barbara Rheault.

To begin, a selected group of students participate in “job shadowing” in the summer. These students train with scientists, artisans, and non-formal educators in a variety of scientific, cultural, environmental, and educational settings both on school grounds and out in the field. Other students attend summer camp activities. Once the school year starts, students begin after school enrichment instruction and participate in an art and essay contest based on New Jersey endangered and threatened species.

Students naturalize a vacant, weed-filled courtyard using native Pine Barrens plant species designed to attract native animals. Students build and install feeders and shelters for the native fauna on school grounds. Shortly thereafter, students incubate, hatch, and brood bobwhite quail, which is a native bird species. Parents who are skilled laborers or craftsmen are employed to construct outdoor learning stations/centers.

All activities are videotaped and produced onto DVDs and made available for family/community night, and presented at a board of education meeting.

Trained students provide public tours during two large community festivals that celebrate the Pine Barrens way of life. At the end of the school year, the bobwhite quail are released into Pine Barrens habitat.

For further information, contact:

Barbara Rheault
School - (609) 561-3868