The Carroll County Farm Museum hosted its biggest-ever group of student visitors — 400 from Gerstell Academy — Tuesday morning for lessons in leadership and community.
“We have field trips on a regular basis, but our field trips usually top about 125 kids, 130 at the most,” said Joanne Weant, farm museum manager. “But we don’t usually get this many kids.”
For the past five years, Gerstell Academy has been working to encourage its students to give back to their communities. This is the first time that Gerstell Academy has taken students to the farm museum because the school saw it as a great place for students to learn and a great space.
“It was potentially a place that could house all 400 of our students and our 100 faculty members in one location that was close to our school,” said Kim Eysaman, a science teacher at Gerstell.
“The farm does so much for the community anyway, so it was a great resource as well,” said Heather Snider, a science teacher at Gerstell.
Gerstell Academy has a leadership program that also tied into the field trip for the students. Instead of your regular, run-of-the-mill parental chaperones, the seniors oversaw the groups while faculty members supervised.
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The students were divided into 20 groups that participated in activities that taught them about history, the community and different aspects of the environment.
“I’m excited, it’s fun,” eighth-grader Simone Hammond said as she painted a fence. “I’m learning all these things and helping the community. You’re learning about many things you don’t in your day-to-day.”
Even as she was learning, another Gerstell student took time to admire nature.
“It’s much cleaner than I thought,” 11th-grader Jessica Silverman said. “The scenery is very pretty.”
Weant hopes to continue to do trips like this with other schools in the future.
“We’d like to try [hosting a large class] again; I’m not sure that we could do much bigger, but we’d like to be able to offer a field trip like this maybe a few times a year to some other schools,” Weant said.
Gerstell Academy staff hoped that students made the connection between what they learn at school and what they learned at the farm museum.
“Our motto is ‘leadership, honor and courage,’ and to truly demonstrate leadership, you absolutely have to volunteer your time and give back to the earth, as well as our community,” Snider said.