News

Outdoor classroom/nature center dedication set

Friday, May 13, 2005

A dedication ceremony for the new outdoor classroom/nature center located behind the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Attendance Assistance Center (RAAC) at 50 Industrial Park Drive in Kankakee will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, May 20.

The nature center is the only free handicapped assessable nature center in Kankakee County and was designed and built by students attending the I-KAN Regional Attendance Assistance Center (RAAC). Junior and Senior high school students from Kankakee and Iroquois counties are referred to the RAAC by their home school districts due to academic and behavioral difficulties.

Work on the nature center began three years ago and efforts continue to sustain and enhance it. The project is paid for in part by an Illinois Community Service Grant for Service Learning. Project activities are designed to develop academic skills in a hands-on setting and align with Illinois State Learning Standards.

The project also received assistance from area horticulturists, representatives of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Tholen’s Garden Center in Kankakee, the Pledge for Life Partnership and the I-KAN Regional Office of Education.

“The kids loved working on this project,” said Eric Morrow, assistant director of the RAAC,. “Not only did it restore a neglected piece of land, it gave the students a real sense of pride and accomplishment.”

The nature center comes complete with a tree arboretum, bird sanctuary, butterfly garden, picnic tables and benches. Work on establishing a sensory garden, a weather station and implementing a GLOBE program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is underway.

Being able to have a daily visual reminder of their efforts, makes the students feel more connected to their community, “ Morrow added, “and many have said they will continue to work on other service projects.”

The nature center is located on an acre of land adjacent to the RAAC’s program facility and the Kankakee Area Special Education Cooperative. Free tours are offered and may be scheduled by calling Eric Morrow at (815) 933-4918

Pledge for Life Partnership

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A Pledge for Life Partnership Initiative
1 Stuart Drive
Kankakee, IL 60901
Email: kan-i-help.org