Sixth grade study wildlife at the end of the school year, so Mr. Legge took them out onto the Crocker Conservancy to plant trees. The trees provide food for our wildlife habitat as well as remove some of the invasive species on the property. Sixth graders partnered up to dig holes and plant trees, which made for great teamwork among classmates.

The Crocker Conservancy & the NEAL Program

Some may have the impression that NEAL is an “add-on” to our science curriculum or an outdoor education unit in our physical education program. Although both are good assumptions, NEAL (Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning) is far more unique and important than a unit or special trip and is one of the many ways that sets a Powhatan education apart from other schools.

NEAL is a lens through which we can teach any or all components of our curriculum. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. Richard Louv, well-known advocate of connecting children to the outdoors, writes in his book Last Child in the Woods about how many children today suffer from what he terms “nature deficit disorder.” He shares examples of how children are “plugged-in” to electronic devices and out of touch with the natural world.

At Powhatan, students have easy access to the outdoors and are using our campus, including the addition of the Crocker Conservancy, to map trails, read or write nature poems, adopt trees and square meters for observation of changes, record data in journals, run and walk the trails, and raise trout for release in the stream. We are continually using the lens of NEAL as we create, amend, and reflect upon our curriculum in all areas.

With the gift of the Crocker Conservancy, our NEAL program can broaden into wetland habitats, warm season grass and wild flower fields and hardwood forests. In a sense, our classroom laboratories have just increased by forty-seven acres!! What a wonderful learning venue for our students and faculty and it is just a step beyond our classroom doors. Many schools much travel hours to enjoy this type of resource, we simply walk past the playground.

Learn more about the Crocker Conservancy here: