For 50 years, Arlington County students have been able to experience the outdoors thanks to Arlington Outdoor Education Association’s Outdoor Lab.
The Outdoor Lab is a 225-acre facility in Fauquier County, about 40 miles from Arlington, that serves as an outdoors classroom for students to learn about science and outdoor skills in a natural setting. Four classes a week visit the facility, including one overnight class. There are also three week-long summer camps.
In all, the facility serves over 9,000 students from elementary through high school.
The Outdoor Lab features a spring-fed stream, a pond, nature hiking trails, plant and animal identification areas. It also houses an observatory with a 10-inch reflecting telescope for astronomy studies.
The experiences differ depending on grade level, ranging from third-graders learning about simple machines and animals to high schoolers studying biology and earth science.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Arlington Outdoor Education Association’s Outdoor Lab is holding an fundraising gala this weekend
The gala will take place Saturday from 7-10 p.m at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Ballston. Tickets are $50 and the proceeds will go to ensuring the lab’s continued operation. The lab’s goal is to raise $50,000 for its 50th anniversary — as of Friday it had raised $28,145.
“[We] will use this milestone to raise funds for our capital needs, such as replacing one of our buildings and land acquisition to buffer the property from encroaching development,” said Mike Nardolilli, president of the AOEA board. “Generations of Arlingtonians have contributed to making the Arlington Outdoor Lab a very special place and all of us have a duty to continue this tradition so that future generations of Arlington students continue to enjoy this unique, wonderful resource.”
Photos courtesy Karen Bate