Champion township, schools talk outdoor learning center

CHAMPION — Champion trustees and school representatives are looking at creating an outdoor community science learning area southeast of the planned PK-8 school complex off state Route 45.

Trustees Rex Fee and Brian Bugos met Thursday with Champion High School principal John Gabrowski and middle school science teacher David Murduck to discuss ideas for a learning area that could be used by both the students and the public.

Murduck said he is seeking grant money for the project. He said the schools already have received a $2,500 Captain Planet Foundation Grant, and he is seeking additional funds from Ohio Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, plans are to seek a grant from Dominion Energy for a pavilion and work station areas for students.

Fee said a portion of the adjoining property for the learning lab is township land and the rest belongs to the school district.

“We want to cooperate with the schools on developing this area,” he said.

Murduck said middle school students will eventually help plant 5,000 flowering and wetland plant seeds at a one-acre storm water basin on the property.

“We will use this area for a learning land lab. This is a long-term vision for the area,” he said.

Murduck said the would like to see the middle school science club members and other students planting the seeds next June. He said a greenhouse in Chardon is growing some of the plants for the area.

A contractor will check the area to make sure it is suitable for planting and is covered by Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District guidelines.

Murduck said he can see all students being able to use the land lab, but most especially the Envirothon and science club members and middle school Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes.

Fee said the property extends to the bike trail area and includes woods.

“We want to see community involvement and usage,” Murduck said.

He said the project will need to be done in phases, with the storm water basin the first part for this year. The stormwater area would receive all the water runoff from the parking lots and school property.

“All the plants would filter all that water, which would eventually go to the Mahoning River,” he said.

Murduck said the total project cost is being worked on, but the storm water project should be between $5,000 and $6,000, and should be covered by grants.

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