At the heart of the Accokeek Foundation’s mission is the preservation of an awe-inspiring space where people of all ages, and from all backgrounds, can learn about Maryland’s rich cultural and natural heritage. In this space–Piscataway Park–we interpret life on the Potomac during the 18th century, culturally-significant agricultural practices, and land management practices that are beneficial for the environment. For many decades, this space has been providing a backdrop for us to lead interdisciplinary educational programs which enhance the area’s school curriculum in Maryland history, ecology, and science. In fact, each year thousands of school youth visit from places near and far. Upon arrival are immediately enveloped in a sense of wonder and excitement at their natural surrounding. Leading these bright-minded youth are their extraordinary teachers.
One extraordinary teacher in particular hails all the way from North Chevy Chase Elementary in Montgomery County, Maryland. As a way to kick off their unit on Colonial Maryland, Mrs. Moore has organized and led a day-long field trip for the school’s 100+ fourth grade students to Accokeek every year for eight years. The students, along with their teachers and chaperons, have split their visit between the Accokeek Foundation’s National Colonial Farm and the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm in order to maximize their field trip time. This unique arrangement allows for a two-in-one kind of experience where the kids are able to experience farm life in Maryland through time. At the National Colonial Farm, students “time travel the seasons” to explore and discover how a child about their age would have lived in the 1770s. They learn how a typical family of four grew their own food, what chores they did, from finding and squishing tobacco hornworms to carding wool for making winter clothing. At the Hard Bargain Farm, they transport through time to the 20th century and experience farm life in more recent history.
A trip like this has a great impact on a child’s education and makes memories that lasts forever. (I still remember my own trip to Hard Bargain Farm at the age of 10 nearly 30 years ago!) It’s the kind of experience that a truly dedicated teacher will create, year over year, for the children they inspire. A teacher like Mrs. Jackie Moore!
So, in honor of National Teachers Day, we would like to send out a great big “thank you” to all of the teachers like Mrs. Moore who believe in the powerful impact that a learned connection to our natural and cultural heritage has on a young mind, and who bring their classrooms for a unique, outdoor experience at Piscataway Park.