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Grass Valley Grads Create Campaign to Build Outdoor Science Center

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    April Hattori

Two graduates of Grass Valley Charter School, inspired by the generosity of their former teacher Merry Byles-Daly, created an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for her dream project to build an Outdoor Science Learning Center at the school.

Merry donated proceeds from the Klingenstein Teacher Award she received from Expeditionary Learning last year to start the project.  Assisted by Garden Coordinator Katie Merrill, Merry’s goal is to create a space to foster hands on science learning and stewardship for teachers, students and the community.

Snow and Skyler, who are now high school freshmen, have been friends since they were first graders at Grass Valley, an Expeditionary Learning Mentor School located in Grass Valley, California.  When they heard Merry’s donation was only a portion of the $25,000 that was needed, they mobilized the problem-solving skills they learned at Grass Valley and determined that indiegogo was the best crowdsourcing application for the project.

“We realized that this would be localized to our community but also wanted to reach out to the world because we really believed that Merry’s idea could be useful for other communities,” Snow and Skyler wrote.

“I am so proud of Skyler and Snow for reaching out to our school in this way.   I was stymied by the monumental task of fundraising for our Outdoor Science Learning Center project.   However, when they stepped up to the plate to help out, my faith in our ability to raise the funds we needed was renewed,” Merry said.  

The two students spent long hours creating the website and the centerpiece of the campaign - a nearly 4-minute video the two created with the participation of Grass Valley students as the stars.  They also continue to work every day on fundraising outreach that includes social media. The indiegogo campaign ends May 11th.

“We have used ideas like “science quote of the day” and updating our social media accounts to try to promote our campaign to the world,” they said, noting that their donations included one from Taiwan.  So far, the campaign has raised $4,725.

Merry said: “When I think about ‘leaders of the their own learning,’ Skyler and Snow really fit the bill.  They have been on top of this project from start to finish.  Their hard work will contribute to the creation of a beautiful Outdoor Science Learning Center that honors both the spirit of learning and exploration inspired by Lee Klingenstein’s wonderful award, and by the principles of academic rigor and lifelong learning that Expeditionary Learning instills in our young people.”

Snow and Skyler said that the deeper learning skills that Grass Valley taught them have helped them in high school and with the campaign:

“This school experience taught us many traits over the years, including compassion, critical thinking, teamwork, and just getting excited about new ideas-even when they might not work out.  Grass Valley prepared us for high school by giving us outdoor learning experiences and other opportunities that other kids might not have.  We went into high school with knowledge and understanding of science and writing and we can see now after our first year that our high school experience benefited greatly from the skills we learned, especially perseverance when things aren’t easy and collaboration where everyone on the team has important input that helps with problem solving in a way that is flexible and supportive. This is why we wanted to do this fundraiser, to help all students in the community get the experiences we had so they can benefit from these qualities also. We realized we don’t have the community we had at Grass Valley, but we can use the skills we learned to create our own community.”

Learn more about the campaign to build Grass Valley’s Outdoor Science Learning Center by clicking here