We continued to expand our partnerships for experiential learning opportunities this past year, utilizing the Huss campus as an outdoor, nature-based classroom.
Our partnership with Three Rivers Area Mentoring (TRAM) continued this year. We hosted TRAM’s After School program at the Huss Project one day a week during warmer months and provided outdoor programming alongside TRAM’s regular activities. Students loved the opportunity to explore the farm, engage the animals (sheep and chickens), wander the woods, and run … everywhere! We also hosted a 4-day summer day camp in partnership with TRAM in June. The 18 participants learned about planting seeds, helped create a new garden bed for next year’s People’s Plot, sang songs, and so much more.
We partnered with the St. Joseph County Great Start Collaborative to start a weekly outdoor playgroup for children under 5 at Huss from Spring through Fall. Every Wednesday morning, kiddos would arrive to play in our mud kitchen, walk our woods trail, play in the sandbox, and taste fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm. These playgroups have continued this Winter at the Three Rivers Public Library.
Abby and Austin, two of our AmeriCorps VISTAs, visited classrooms at several local elementary schools in the Spring and Fall to talk about the Huss Project, growing food (including maple syrup!), and caring for animals. During their Spring visits, they were able to introduce students to one of our new lambs—which was, as you might imagine, a bit hit! They also did a series of talks at the Marcellus Public Library, highlighting permaculture, native plants, grazing animals, and more. This relationship-building work led to the Andrews Elementary School Kindergarten Class co-hosting a Community Lantern Walk in our woods to mark the Winter Solstice. We’re already organizing field trips for local students to the Huss Project for the coming year.
We’ve watched children light up when given the chance to get their hands in soil, to build something together, and to experience child-directed play in a natural environment. And the energy they bring to the space at Huss is infectious and helps us see our work through wondering, curious eyes. We are developing several new experiential learning programs and hope to announce them soon! All of this is made possible through the generosity of our supporters. If you’d like to support this ongoing work, please click the donate button below. Thank you so much!
Photo courtesy of TRAM.