Meredosia-Chambersburg Awarded Tracy Family Foundation Grant Toward Wildlife Refuge

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 17, 2023 at 5:57pm

An area school district has been awarded a sizable grant from the Tracy Family Foundation.

Meredosia-Chambersberg science teacher Robin Varner told the school board last week that they had received $20,000 in grant funding from the Tracy Family Foundation to continue work at the Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge, which was established in 1973, has been the recent focus of Varner’s eighth-grade science class after a pilot program began in May of last year to get students out of the classroom and into a more hands-on working setting.

Varner says it was a long process to apply and qualify for the grant, but the results will benefit not just students at Meredosia-Chambersburg, but the community as a whole.

The proceeds will be used to build picnic tables, a pavilion, finish the flower bed, finish the pathways, the information kiosk, plant fruit trees, and a whole slew of things to make it not just an outdoor classroom for our students, but it can also be available for community use. If the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts want to have a place to have an outdoor gathering. If somebody in the community wants to have a birthday party, there’s going to be grills there for anybody who wants to make use of that.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, they can hold classes there. The whole point is for it to be usable in a wide range of things to connect to the community, and to the school, as well as give our kids those same skills. Those life skills, the career skills, the ability to be proud of something we are doing in class and be proud of their community. There’s a lot going on there.”

Last year the class built raised beds that are now home to native flowers that are studied at the refuge. Varner says the school administration and the school district have taken notice of all the hard work put into the project by the students.

I couldn’t ask for better support. Making our schedule this year was challenging and they made sure I had a time frame available to take the kids. They provide transportation without question twice a week for me to take the kids there.

They are very excited and have even talked about our students using the design from the reserve to build flower boxes for the school. We’ve seen a lot of positive interaction between the two and they seemed very interested in it at the board meeting the other night.”

Varner says the Village of Meredosia has also taken notice of the project and has approached the school district to possibly have the classes build similar raised flower beds for use throughout town