Connecticut’s First Nature Explore Classroom Opens in Stamford

Outdoor education space introduced at Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens, part of national effort to promote hands-on learning in the outdoors
Sep 30, 2011 7:45 AM ET
Press Release

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) September 30, 2011 - Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens, Stamford-based nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, Inc., and project sponsors PepsiCo and the Arbor Day Foundation proudly announce today’s grand opening of Connecticut’s first Nature Explore Classroom, a dynamic, nature-based play and learning space that applies research-based, field-tested design principles to enhance children’s experiences in the outdoors.

The new Nature Explore Classroom will provide a space for children and families to gain a hands-on appreciation for nature and the natural world while gaining valuable, “unwired” experiences in the outdoors. Features include a performance space, a “messy materials” section, arts and crafts stations, climbing and crawling areas, a music and movement station, and more.

“This Nature Explore Classroom is the perfect outdoor complement to the new Silver Education Center and will help us fulfill our mission by providing an opportunity for children to explore nature creatively,” said Peter Saverine, Executive Director of Operations for Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens. “We’re thankful to all of the people and organizations that have made it possible.”

The classroom, which broke ground in May 2011, was completed thanks to generous donations from Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo and the Arbor Day Foundation. Employee volunteers from PepsiCo and Keep America Beautiful, along with students from area schools, assisted in the design and construction of the classroom.

“As part of our mission to engage young people in environmental stewardship, Keep America Beautiful is thrilled to help bring Nature Explore Classrooms to communities nationwide,” said Matthew M. McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “Here in our hometown, this project is all the more meaningful to our organization. We hope this will be an amenity that the Stamford community can enjoy for many years to come.”

"PepsiCo is a proud supporter of the Nature Explore Classroom, and we're thrilled to see it come to life as a space that the local community can enjoy for generations to come," said Tom Greco, President Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo.  "This project is a true demonstration of PepsiCo's commitment to Performance with Purpose, our mission to deliver sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet."

Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation in response to the growing disconnect between children and nature, Nature Explore Classrooms are designed to help fill the void by educating young children using research-based principles for integrating nature into their daily learning. The Classrooms offer interactive elements - including climbing structures, musical instruments made of natural materials, wooden blocks, and natural materials for building and creating art - that give children important and inspiring nature experiences. While connecting children with nature, such unstructured play and activities are shown to enhance concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving, relieve stress, and improve skills in many areas. Outdoor classrooms that are designed according to prescribed principles are eligible to become certified Nature Explore Classrooms.

About Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens
The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is one of Fairfield County’s leading botanical and horticultural education resources featuring 91 acres of open, green space located on the historical property of well-known arborist Dr. Francis A. Bartlett. For additional information, visit www.bartlettarboretum.org.

About Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
Keep America Beautiful, Inc., established in 1953, is the nation's largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. This national nonprofit forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments. For additional information, visit www.kab.org.

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo offers the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. Our main businesses -- Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay, and Pepsi Cola -- also make hundreds of other enjoyable foods and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo’s people are united by our unique commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet, which we believe also means a more successful future for PepsiCo. We call this commitment Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment, including by conserving energy and water usage, and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for our associates; and to respect, support, and invest in the local communities where we operate. For more information, please visit www.pepsico.com.

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About the Arbor Day Foundation
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit education organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org. Learn more at www.arborday.org/explore.

About Dimensions Educational Research Foundation
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation was formed in 1998 to study how science, math and literacy learning can be enhanced by the addition of more visual-spatial activities into classrooms and homes. For a number of years, the Foundation has conducted and collected research on how children best develop visual-spatial skills and how teachers and families can optimally support this development. Dimensions Educational Research Foundation's goal is to create and deliver unique educational programming to 1) Help people better understand and appreciate the natural world by developing visual-spatial skills; and 2) Improve science, math and literacy learning through visual-spatial skills.

KAB17259

Robert Wallace
Keep America Beautiful
http://www.kab.org