Outdoor Club pulls close community closer

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Above: Members of Belvedere’s Outdoor Club brave sub-freezing temps to enjoy Saturday morning together at Lake Accotink. Spouses, siblings, and pets are welcome, too.

 

Once a month, on a Saturday morning, a bus pulls up at Belvedere and a nearby apartment complex to take students, parents, staff, spouses, siblings, and other relatives to a local park for a hike. Some families drive themselves or walk, meeting the bus at that month’s destination. This is the Belvedere Outdoor Club, new this year.

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Outdoor Club members observe and photograph a trio of frogs floating in a hollow sycamore trunk at Huntley Meadows.

More than 100 families signed up to be in the club, and monthly participation has been high. On the hikes, adults and children of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds talk with each other, get excited about wildlife, and just enjoy being in the fresh air, often in a place they’ve never been before. The PTA paid for 15 pairs of binoculars, which have let us get incredible wildlife views, including those of a great blue heron soaring over the Huntley Meadows wetland and an eagle perched near its nest at Lake Accotink.

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Above: The first trip was to Holmes Run. An earlier rain made the stream crossing an adventure.

 

A huge thanks goes to the Belvedere PTA, Title I grant funding, and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eStore grant for providing transportation funding. [The Outdoor Club is partly supported by the 2016 Virginia Wildlife eStore (www.ShopDGIF.com) Grant Program through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.]

These trips have allowed us to come together as a community in a new way, giving parents and staff time to talk in a relaxed atmosphere and providing students with a chance to experience the science they study in the classroom and to learn how to identify some common plants and animals. We hope to be able to continue the program next year. A few more photos from our trips are below.

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Huntley Meadows on a glorious fall day.

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