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Outdoor education center open for learning

Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-23 01:07:19-04
A crowd of people gathered Friday, April 22nd for the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Idaho Center for Outdoor Education. 
 
It's a way to get kids out of the traditional classroom and get them excited about learning.
 
"We go out and we do physical education," explained 7th grader Faith Head. "Instead of let's say learning about a snake in a book, you get to feel it and you get to see it."
 
It took sixteen years from the Basin School District to acquire the land from the BLM. They purchased the 87 Acres for just $870 through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, where nonprofits can gain title to federal lands that are little or no use to the government but expensive to maintain. 
 
While the outdoor school is within walking distance of Idaho City Schools, it's not limited to just those students. 
 
"Our vision for it is to be an educational and recreational resource for our students, students from other districts, and the community at large," explained John McFarlane, Superintendent for the Basin School District. 
 
Students went outside on Friday to learn about tree planting, an entomologist showed them bugs, and a representative from NIFC taught students the basics of firefighting. 
 
"One of the most exciting tables I visited was the erosion table," said Idaho State Superintendent Sherri Ibarra.  "Students were actually getting to move parts of the land around to see exactly the effects of erosion."
 
Even though it's already been a 16-year process to the ICOE up and running, the project is far from complete. 
 
Future Additions include an Observadome for Astronomy, a trail to the top of the mountain, and even a science lab so future generations can get excited about learning. 
 
"Learning is fun. I think unfortunately in the classroom we beat a lot of the fun out of it. We are really trying to reinvigorate that effort and take that natural curiosity that kids have, get them outdoors, and let them learn and play at the same time," said McFarlane. 
 
For information about how you can get involved with the Idaho Center for Outdoor Education click here.