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Partnership brings local students an outdoor learning area

Partnership brings local students an outdoor learning area. (NTV News)

An outdoor learning area is being constructed for students to enhance their knowledge about native central Nebraska ecosystems.

The project started construction on Monday and the land excavation is already finished.

Currently crews are removing trees before they start constructing the outdoor classroom.

Kearney Public Schools and Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary have collaborated for this educational project.

"We're able to create an awesome site for kids to come out and learn about how important wetlands are to the Platte River ecosystem and the functions they play in filtering out water," said Cody Wagner from Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary.

Rowe Sanctuary is working with teachers to create a curriculum on environmental education.

"We want to give them the opportunity and the experience to get that start in conservation," said Wagner.

They're hoping that kids can relate with topics discussed in their classes.

"If you can actually come out here and see we have this high diversity prairie and we have all these things that rely on these different plants. That's kind of the experience we are hoping for," said Wagner.

Now with the change of the state's science standards requiring experiential learning, Rowe Sanctuary says they're one step ahead.

"You are going to be actually getting hands–on with your students instead of something where you're focusing more on classroom work. It's going to be a lot more critical thinking type stuff," said Wagner.

"What they're going to remember is they got to come outside and it might get them interested in science and excited about science so they want to take more classes and maybe choose science as a career pathway for them," said Bob Talbitzer, a biology teacher at Kearney High School.

Talbitzer says he is excited to have this experience available to students.

"Anytime you can extend a classroom outside of the four traditional walls is going to provide experiences to students, they're going to remember for a long time," said Talbitzer.

He also says there is so much learning to be done in this area.

"You have a lot of diversity and then the more diversity, the more exposure to kids to different forms of life," said Talbitzer.

The project isn't expected to be completely finished until Spring 2018.

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