Ohio State golf course offers living classroom for local students
Middle school students learn about environment, plant new trees
Dozens of students from Upper Arlington’s Jones Middle School braved some wet weather and muddy ground to spend their morning in a living classroom at The Ohio State University golf course last week.
Armed with gloves, shovels and plenty of teamwork, the students helped plant trees and shrubs and trimmed back invasive plants encroaching on the course. The program occurred before schools around the state closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have a community outreach deal with Jones Middle School,” said Dennis Bowsher, golf course superintendent. “They’ve been studying in their science class different environmental things and we’re going to actually put some of that into practice by planting approximately 60 native trees and shrubs.”
Golf course groundskeepers, the Department of Athletics sustainability office and community volunteers helped with the effort to plant trees and clear overgrown weeds. For the students, it was a hands-on learning experience to help them improve their neighborhood.
Seventh-grader Bella Berry said she appreciated the environmental impact the new trees would have on the watershed.
“The trees can soak up the water from the ground and the runoff won’t go into the rivers,” she said.
The experience is part of a larger effort at the middle school to focus on service learning.
“This year we’ve undertaken the idea of sustainability and trying to give back to the earth,” said Jim Fronk, Jones Middle School math teacher. “We’ve studied climate change, we’ve studied watersheds, water aquifers and how the water system flows throughout our environment.”
Bowsher said working with a local school district and local students is part of the university’s land-grant mission. He said it’s a community outreach effort to help educate young students.
“Were not waiting until they arrive on campus to help with their education. We’re facilitating that as they grow,” he said.
The tree-planting effort was a lesson in sustainability but it also helps plant a brighter and cleaner future.
“We have 300 acres here at the golf course and we naturally lose 20 to 40 trees or more every year,” Bowsher said. “The university’s goal is to increase the tree canopy here and we’re starting that today. We’re going to have very small plants that we’re putting out here, but it’s for the future.”
“It makes me feel cool because I can do this,” Berry said. “And it makes me feel grateful that I have the opportunity to do this.”
It wasn’t just a learning opportunity – it was also a chance for the seventh-grade class to have some fun.
“You get your hands dirty; you get mud under your nails. I think that it’s fun to do that,” Bowsher said. “I like to see these kids out with nature.”