Learning isn’t confined to the classroom. These outdoor education places allow students to gain the hands-on educational experience that can only be obtained outside of the brick and mortar walls.
Brickyard Educational Farm
8565 Horseshoe Lane
Potomac, MD 20854
In Montgomery County, Maryland, Brickyard Educational Farm strives to educate the nation’s youth on where their food comes, as well as inspire them to learn and apply local and sustainable food and agriculture. Lessons include soil science and composting and the growing cycle from planting and watering to harvesting, with emphasis on organic gardening. For teachers, the Brickyard Educational Farm is already set up for a field trip with lesson plans and tests at a low cost of only $3 per student.
Locust Grove Nature Center
7777 Democracy Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20817
In the luscious woods of Cabin John Regional Park sits the education center of Locust Grove Nature Center. With nature exhibits for the students to explore and a colorful butterfly garden, students can learn about nature and insects. The passionate staff will be happy to discuss the delicate ecosystem of Cabin John Regional Park, including invasive species of plants. Take a walk down the easily accessible trails and enjoy a discussion under a large tree with a fire pit. Monthly themed activity stations will help with your lesson plan.
115 Pure Meadows Lane
Swoope, VA 24479
Polyface is a working farm that focuses on sustainably raised meats including chicken, pigs and cows. The farm is the epitome of eco-friendly farming with the ability to produce more pounds per acre than farms twice its size through Joel Salatin’s unique approach to moving his herds daily. The farm offers school group tours called Grass Stain Tours that will provide students with the up-close-and-personal experience for a flat rate of $150 with no minimum or maximum limit.
Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium
5200 Glover Road N.W.
Washington, DC 20015
In the middle of the district sprawls the deeply wooded area called Rock Creek Park. The park has a Nature Center that offers exhibits on the local plant species and animals found within the park. There’s a live animal exhibit with turtles, fish, snakes and bees. There are also ranger-led programs that take students along one of the many hiking trails in park. It also offers bilingual tours as well. If it’s inclement weather that day, there’s a planetarium to explore.
United States Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20024
The United States Botanic Garden is a great place to enjoy the vast diversity of plants and flowers in different environments. From the grounds of the butterfly garden, rose garden and First Ladies Water Garden to the beautifully erected conservatory with more tropical plants, there’s diversity all around. The indoor conservatory offers desert, jungle and primeval plants. Be sure to check out the Bartholdi Park with its manicured grounds and fountain.
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Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture
Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isnt enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.