Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Scholars Students Explore the Natural World

(Kelley Thompson is a Program Specialist in FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

The FLOC Scholars Program took 19 Scholars students to the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Harpers Ferry, West Va., to learn about and explore the natural world. The OEC trip was a fun and exciting adventure infused with environmental learning, natural world exploring, and exposure to ways to be greener.

While at the OEC, FLOC Scholars built upon a foundation of environmental knowledge developed during the school year. They were exposed to ways to act on behalf of the environment as well as careers in environmental fields. They engaged in dialogue about the importance of green action. And, they did all of this while adventuring, exploring and trying new and exciting outdoor activities.

Specifically, the Scholars students learned about wildlife ecology on hikes, at campfires and while using a map and compass to explore the OEC property. They visited the Blue Ridge Rehabilitation Center to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation processes as well as the impacts that humans have on the environment. They even got a chance to meet ‘ambassador’ animals, such as a rehabilitated turtle, hawk and opossum.

Students learned about biodiversity, forest ecology, leave no trace (LNT) principles and human impacts on the environment. With this knowledge they were able to practice LNT principles while hiking and camping in the Appalachian Mountains and canoeing on the Shenandoah River. On their canoeing/camping adventure, they were able to identify trees and explore different ecosystems.

Students also learned about wetland ecology. They visited different bodies of water (creeks, rivers and ponds) and were able to explore and discover with nets, magnifying glasses and other water tools. They learned how to identify various macroinvertebrates and how to test water temperature, pH levels and oxidation levels. In learning these things, students were able to assess the water quality of different local bodies of water and draw their own conclusions about human impacts on local water.

While at the OEC, students learned about natural resource and wildlife conservation. They talked to biologists and historians at the National Conservation Training Center and scientists at the USDA Fishery. At every meal they talked about the value of composting and recycling. They also participated in hands on activities that taught them about alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric energies.

After summer programming at the OEC, students are more informed and better equipped to make sound environmental choices. And, very importantly, many are eager to take advantage of other opportunities to get out and explore the natural world.


Q & A with Summer Intern Kara Jerez

(We are recognizing FLOC’s interns this summer by publishing blog posts about their experiences. Kara Jerez works in the recruitment and outreach department and is a reading tutor this summer.)

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from Nutley, New Jersey.

Q: Where do you go to school and what do you major in?

A: I go to Susquehanna University. I’m entering my senior year and double majoring in public relations and studio art, with a minor in advertising.

Q: How did you hear about FLOC?

A: I heard about it through the Lutheran College Washington Semester.

Q: What do you do as the Recruitment and Outreach Intern?

A: My biggest project is coming up with a business outreach program and doing research.

Q: What have you learned here and what were some challenges you faced?

A: I think the biggest challenge has been tutoring. It has really helped my people skills. I’ve also improved my writing and communication skills here.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working here?

A: The people.

Q: What are your plans after college?

A: I’m thinking about grad schools, but I’m not sure about that yet. I’d like to continue working in a communications department at a nonprofit. I would also like to test the waters of other departments that my college major parallels with.

Outdoor Education Center

The OEC and Boys and Girls Club Form Partnership

(Rob Stull is the Outreach Coordinator for the Outdoor Education Center.)

During this past year, I learned a college classmate of mine was now serving on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle (BGCEP)—a group the OEC staff has discussed partnering with. I reached out to my old friend and soon we were sharing with each other the mission of our two organizations. We quickly realized the OEC and BGCEP shared some of the same core beliefs and a partnership should form.

In June the BGCEP brought 20 students to the OEC to participate in our Team Development Challenge Course. The children and their chaperones participated in a number of our team building initiatives in the morning—building trust, confidence and communication with their peers. After breaking for lunch, the participants took their adventure to the next level by completing the high ropes course equipped with a 300’ zip-wire.

At day’s end, there was a noticeable, positive change in the overall dynamics of the group. Participants overcame obstacles, helped their friends face their fears, and became closer with each other.

June’s event was a pilot program in order to develop a specific program to completely address the goals of the students. Based on the overall success of the program, the OEC has continued working with board members of the club to schedule dates in the fall for additional students to visit the OEC.

It is our hope to host every student in both the Jefferson County and Martinsburg/Berkeley County Chapters of the Boys and Girls Club. The June program was funded in part by Berkeley Community Pride. If you would like to learn more about this partnership, or to help fund the program by sponsoring a student, please contact Rob Stull at 304.725.0409 or rstull@floc.org.


Q & A with Summer Intern Iris Park

(We are recognizing FLOC’s interns this summer by publishing blog posts about their experiences. Na Hyeun (Iris) Park works in the development department.)

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from South Korea. I got my masters degree from Oklahoma City University in Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL).

Q: How did you hear about FLOC?

A: I was looking at internship placements at the Washington Center and applied for an educational nonprofit. They introduced me to FLOC.

Q: What does your internship involve?

A: I’m working in the development department, doing research on fundraising opportunities and corporate partnerships.

Q: What do you like the most about FLOC and living in DC so far?

A: I really like my experience. I’ve learned a lot about company culture and Washington culture. The other thing I really like is my job duty. [Development] is important to non-profit organizations supporting the education system. FLOC is a small organization but very organized. I was very impressed. Everyone here is eager and passionate to work. They enjoy it here.

Q: What are your plans after this summer?

A: I am planning to go back to Korea and look for a job related to non-profit organizations similar to FLOC.

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Imani

Imani is a very bright and ambitious student who has participated in the Scholars program for two years and is headed to college in the fall. She is a recipient of the Fred Taylor Scholarship which will support her pursuit of post-secondary education.

She says the Scholars Program experience has broadened her horizons when it comes to applying to college. She learned how to fill out applications and write essays.

“There was no one to help me with the college process – FLOC helped me a lot with that.”

She says that the Scholars college tour was a great opportunity to see different schools and provided a valuable bonding experience with her fellow students.

Imani applied to about 14 schools and was accepted into 12, including North Carolina A&T, Virginia State, York College, LaSalle and her college of choice – Albright College.

She plans on studying international relations and sociology and wants to be a Foreign Service Officer or Ambassador one day.

“I’m not as afraid of going away. I had my doubts because it’s not home. FLOC helped prepare me to go by myself for a long period of time.’