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April 1, 2013

Boys & Girls Club planning outdoor learning center

GREENVILLE — Currently, the large field behind the Reecy Davis Recreation Center, home to the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Texas, is unusable for most of the year. In the summer, the ground cracks and there is little shade. During fall and spring, it can become a muddy mess.

But the club has plans to change that, with the help of the Follies, the Golden K Kiwanis and the city of Greenville.

Jenny Krueger, CPO for the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Texas, has been working to create an outdoor education center to be used by the club’s members, students from next-door Carver Elementary, other civic and non-profit organizations, as well as local residents.

 While the exact construction details of the education center will depend on how much grant money the club receives, the initial plan calls for an all-purpose sports field, low ropes course, walking path, garden and pavilion for holding classes outdoors.

The benefits of the center are obvious, Krueger said. The all-purpose sports field will allow the club to introduce their members to group sports, such as baseball, while giving them a safe playing space.

The low ropes course can be used to teach self-confidence, self-awareness and group effectiveness, according to Krueger, through planned course activities.

The garden will allow members to develop basic horticulture skills, learn to appreciate where food comes from, work together to produce results and learn to make healthier, smarter eating choices outside of the club. The pavilion can be used as an outdoor classroom by the club, as well as Carver educators.

Krueger has focused on tailoring the education center to meet the needs of teachers, taking input from educators at Carver and talking with Cy-Fair ISD, a district that has one of the best outdoor learning facilities in the state of Texas.

“I have, from these conversations, been learning what kind of material to use on the benches, what kind of seating to have underneath the pavilion, etc.,” Krueger said.

A large portion of the funds for the project will generated by the Follies during their semi-annual music revue, set to take place on April 26 and 27. The Boys & Girls’ Club initially applied for the funding from the Follies about a year ago, and will also volunteer to help run the program.

Krueger plans to write a matching grant to provide additional funds for the project.

“We are expecting anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 from the Follies,” she said. “The city has agreed to basically donate the labor to us. Right now, I’m working on placing a price on that labor, and once I do that, I’ll write a grant to match the total donation. Because of that process, it looks like there will be multiple phases.”

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club, visit www.begreatnext.org. Information on the Greenville Follies can be found at www.greenvillefollies.com.

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