Bunker Hill Environmental Center Re-Opened To Township Students


Bunker Hill Environmental Center environmentalist and Franklin Park School teacher Emily Amon shows MacAfee Road School students a Praying Mantis. She later released the insect.

The Bunker Hill Environmental Center was re-opened to township students Sept. 20, with a group of MacAfee Road School 3rd Graders leading the way.

The center, nestled on about 96 acres off of Bunker Hill Road in Griggstown, provides a hands-on environmental science lab to the school district’s students in grades K-12. The center is provided to the township by the school district, the township and the state Green Acres program.

Students haven’t been able to take advantage of the center in any organized way for several years due to budget cuts. But funding was restored this year, allowing for periodic trips for all township 3rd and 4th grade school students through June.

Surrounded by district and township admistrators, teachers and students, Board of Education vice president nancy LaCorte called out a short countdown before cutting a blue ribbon strung across two pillars at the center’s Glass House building, ceremonially re-opening the center.

Following that, center environmentalist Emily Amon, a Franklin Park School teacher, took 3rd Grade students in Jennifer Sperry’s class on a hike through the Graeber Woods.

During the hike, Amon pointed out items of interest – including an apparently very pregnant Praying Mantis – and then led the children in a modified game of hide-and-seek.

The center will give students the opportunity to “foster an appreciation for the natural world and what it offers us,” said Eric Siegal, the district’s science supervisor. “It’s important because students should have a connection to nature and to the ecosystem.”


Amon leads students on a hike through the center.

“Every 3rd and 4th grader across the whole district will have the opportunity to explore their natural habitat,” Siegal said. “They’ll be able to identify species and discuss the variations they see in the natural environment around them.”

Siegel said the center is unique among state school districts.

“I challenge you to find another district in New Jersey that has its own environmental center,” he said. “It’s a great benefit to the students to have a place for them to work outside, to do experiments outside, gather data and have it be a part of their community. My goal is to expand it.”

LaCorte said the district is “very happy to work collaboratively with the township to bring this together for our community, and most importantly, for our kids.”

“It’s going to help them with so many sciences,” she said.

Perry said the center is good for the students because it gives them a chance to see in the real world what before they could only read about.

“This is great for the kids because many of them don’t get to get out and see many of these things first-hand,” she said. “We learn about them in class, but they don’t actually get to experience it in real life.”

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