By Mark Rountree

Efforts have begun to develop an outdoor classroom on 4 acres behind Skyline Elementary School.

Organizers plan to resurrect an abandoned project that began 14 years ago.

“We want to pick up the project and do it right and keep it up,” said project manager Phillip Deisher. “For generations to come, we want to make this a valuable asset to the community and the school system as a whole.”

The project recently received a $7,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s nice, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,’’ said Deisher. “We could probably use at least $30,000 or $40,000 to get this thing off and running.’’

Deisher said donations are tax deductible because the project is being sponsored by the Skyline PTA.

“This is such a neat project, but there is so much to do,” he said. “Obviously we could use monetary help. We want to try to get as much labor and material donated as possible. Obviously, the more we get people to volunteer to help, the less we will have to pay for.”

Deisher said physical science classes could use the outdoor classroom and pond for ecological studies and experiments.

He said many species of plant life are found on the property, and sign cards could be placed next them for identification.

“It should be a learning experience outdoors,’’ he said.

He said art classes could walk the trails for inspiration.

“Or, classes could just take a nature walk,’’ he said.

The first phase of the project will be to remove overgrowth along the pond and construct approximately 150 feet of asphalt trails. The trails will be four feet wide and handicapped accessible. The trail will lead to the pond.

Deisher said plans are to construct a wooden deck along the shoreline of the pond. The deck will reach out into the water.

He said another project will be to build a gazebo that includes benches and tables.

Deisher said that when the initial project started 14 years ago, a small amphitheater was constructed but not finished.

He said refurbishing the existing amphitheater is in the plans, as well as constructing an additional 150 feet of trails around the structure.

He hopes that open areas can be developed for Frisbee golf and possibly archery. Deisher said the facility will be open to the public.

For more information, contact Deisher at 918-636-5540 or Andrea Rains at 405-338-1041.

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