High School Science TeacherRadford, Virginia
Trees Offer High School Students a Living Laboratory
Radford, Virginia's 50-acre Wildwood Park is a living laboratory where high school teacher Frank Taylor offers lessons in species diversity, urban wildlife and the benefits derived from trees.
Frank's classes also conduct research projects in the nature-oriented park and assist in managing the area. "I can bring students directly into the forest by walking straight out the door of the high school," Frank says. When the 85-year-old park potentially conflicted with road construction, local non-profit Pathways for Radford spearheaded a drive to keep the site intact as a recreation area and outdoor classroom.
With grants from the City of Radford, State of Virginia, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the group built and refurbished trails and added more trees along its pathways. "Without this resource, my biology program would be completely different," Frank adds.
Having a natural area in the heart of the city is serving as a valuable aid to education. "This is economical and instructionally a good use of time," he said. And it also pays off for the students -- Franks says one hundred percent of his students passed the state Standards of Learning exam in biology.