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W.Va. center receives grant for learning site

July 31, 2000

W.Va. center receives grant for learning site



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The federal Environmental Protection Agency this week awarded the National Conservation Training Center money to establish an outdoor learning center.

Last March, the training center opened its own day-care center for children of the estimated 200 people who work there, according to Mark Madison, the center's historian.

The day-care center offers all the regular amenities, but because of the wildlife experts who work there, the kids get a little extra, Madison said.

World-class ornithologists at the center talk to the children about their work, and the stuffed animal displays are used to educate children about the environment, Madison said.

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Now the Children's Treehouse is going a step further.

This week, the EPA awarded the day-care center $5,000 to establish the outdoor learning center.

The money will be used to plant native plants and trees at the center so kids can learn about the environment, Madison said. Other features that will be added include bird feeders and bird houses and a small pond that will include fish and amphibians, he said.

Center officials eventually hope to build a boardwalk throughout the area where students can view wildlife, Madison said.

The attractions will add to an environment that is already full of wildlife, Madison said. The 500 acres that make up the grounds of the center off Shepherd Grade Road run down to the Potomac River, where it is common to see bald eagles and hawks cruising around the river gorge, Madison said.

"We have tons of deer. No surprise there. So we're just trying to bring in a few more species with the birdhouses," Madison said.

The National Conservation Training Center trains researchers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Numerous other agencies, like the Forest Service, also use the center.

Children's Treehouse is also open to the public, Madison said. The center, which can accommodate about 50 children, already has children from Martinsburg and Charles Town, Madison said.

The EPA grant awarded to the center was part of a total of $2.3 million in grants awarded nationally that are designed to stimulate grass-roots environmental education, the agency said.

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