CU presents Clay Hill Memorial Forest Outdoor Classroom Institute

CU presents Clay Hill Memorial Forest Outdoor Classroom Institute

July 23, 2012
For Immediate Release

Teachers and instructors at the Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) Outdoor Classroom Institute include from left: Front row -- Susan Pope, actress/dramatist; Tara Burkhead, Washington County Schools; Linda Taylor, West Marion Elementary School; Shari Boblitt, Washington/Franklin County Schools; Pam Walters, Daviess County Schools; Pam Quinn, Green County Primary School; Barbie Milby, Green County Primary School; Rachel Bardin, Adair County Elementary School; and Dr. Mark McKinnon, physics professor with Lindsey Wilson College. Back row – Debra Wimmer of Adair County High School; Michael Godsey, Adair County High School; Brenda Tungate, associate professor of biology at Campbellsville University; Paula Mattingly, Washington County Middle School; Marcia Sharp, Campbellsville Elementary School; Alicia Bosela, director of the Outdoor Classroom Institute for 2012, assistant director CHMF; Trisha Hall, Green County Primary School; Becky Streeval, Mercer County Senior High School; and Jackie Allen, Casey County High School. (Campbellsville University Photo by Naranchuluu Amarsanaa)

By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University’s Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) Outdoor Classroom Institute studied “novel approaches to science teaching” at its program recently.

Twenty-two teachers learned how to use drama, music, pottery, forging, photography, storytelling and directed discovery to teach science.

Attending teachers were from schools in Adair, Casey, Daviess, Franklin, Green, Marion, Mercer, Taylor and Washington counties. Taylor County participants were from Campbellsville Independent Schools.

Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric Company sponsors Clay Hill Memorial Forest Outdoor Classroom Institute.

“The outdoor classroom is in line with our objective to support educational initiatives,” Shiela Newcomb, area regional operations manager for LG&E and KU, said. “And this worthwhile effort allows us to reinforce our unwavering commitment to the people and the communities we serve.”

The teachers learned how to spark interest in science by using the nontraditional tools of music, drama and storytelling. They found that there are “lots of ways to make learning more meaningful;” scientific topics as complex as the rock cycle, climate change and ecosystems might be best taught by telling a story or acting.

One teacher said the institute was “amazing” and had “wonderful speakers, great activities and wonderful applications for the classroom.” Another comment was the sessions were “creative ways to learn and present not so simple concepts.”

John Blair, who won a Pulitzer Prize in news photography in 1979, taught teachers “some basics and lighting and positioning that I can definitely use personally and in the classroom.”

In addition to Blair, Lorinda Jones, Mark McKinnon, Susan Pope, Georgia Purtee, Paula Roberts, Henrietta and Jeffery Scott and Tim Sutter gave presentations.

Clay Hill Memorial Forest is a 158-acre educational and research woodland that is being developed by
Campbellsville University as a regional center for environmental education and research on eastern deciduous forests.
In 1996, Campbellsville University received title to the part of Clay Hill Farm from that became Clay Hill Memorial Forest from George W. Howell and Edwin Lee White Jr. with the explicit agreement that the land would be used for environmental and forestry education and research.

Since 1996, more than 35,000 school children have visited Clay Hill Memorial Forest. Many of the teachers who brought them were among the 350 who have participated in the Outdoor Classroom Institutes at the forest over the past 10 years.

The CHMF staff hopes to promote environmental conservation by increasing public awareness in the aesthetic, recreational and economic importance of forests. The forest is open to the public and is accessible by five miles of trails that vary in grade from gentle to difficult and in length from one to three miles.

Facilities include a small arboretum with identified trees, and a trail teaches students about ecological succession. There are several springs, two small streams and an old pond with an observation pier. In addition to forests, there is a tall grass prairie, prairie wildflowers and a walnut tree plantation.

The Joan White Howell Environmental Education Center and pavilion are the principle teaching facilities. The center is a fully equipped classroom/laboratory suitable for about 25 students.

The center houses a 250-gallon aquarium, a tropical butterfly display, modern classroom equipment including computers with high speed Internet, a fully array of field equipment and a greenhouse.

The pavilion and center are served by a constructed wetland wastewater treatment facility, and there are two small amphitheaters that seat 75 students and a gazebo with plaques describing the history of the Clay Hill farm.

CHMF is open to the public and is located approximately eight miles north of the City of Campbellsville on Kentucky Hwy. 289 (Old Lebanon Road).

For more information about CHMF, contact Dr. Gordon Weddle, professor of biology and director of Clay Hill Memorial Forest, at or visit the CHMF website at

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is
Download Printable Document