Mountain SOL is about connection – connection to self, connection to friends, to community and to a greater circle of life. Our classes are hands-on and allow for unstructured time in the woods as well as experiences in stewardship and self-led exploration.
Mountain SOL offers two programs: In-school classroom integrated programs for Morgantown Learning Academy (MLA) students, and afterschool programs open to all local students.
Our programs teach skills and knowledge across 4 broad categories of outdoor and environmental education.
We teach Concepts of Nature:
- WV wildflower, plant and tree identification
- WV animals, their life cycles and tracks
- Food web, predator/prey interactions
- Stream and forest ecology
- Seasonal cycles of local plants, animals and climate
We teach Wilderness & Outdoor skills:
- Map-reading and navigation
- Debris hut construction
- Wild foraging and medicinal plants
- Wilderness First Aid
We teach Environmental Stewardship:
- Home and community gardening
- Developing wildlife habitat
- Forest conservation
- Watershed restoration
- Species preservation
We teach Natural Fitness:
- Lifting, balancing, hanging, climbing
- Jumping, crawling, running, squatting
- Strength and agility
- Balance and coordination
- Self-confidence and self-esteem
Mountain SOL has opened in partnership with MLA and builds on the outdoor, afterschool programs that Mountain SOL Director and part-time MLA instructor Jen-Osha Buysse started in 2011. Jen has over 15 years’ experience of teaching, developing and supporting outdoor and environmental education programs that strengthen the connections between human communities and their natural environment. MLA is a non-profit, non-church affiliated, private school for children from preschool to eighth grade. To learn more about Morgantown Learning Academy, click here.
“You can’t protect anything until you love it. The spirit of Mountain SOL is based in fun and adventure, so kids learn environmental stewardship and social responsibility from a place of passion.” -Jen-Osha Buysse, Mountain SOL Director
Mountain SOL grows from the work done by Aurora Lights, a West Virginia environmental non-profit. Since 1998 Aurora Lights has been leading programs in a variety of environmental stewardship and outdoor leadership topics. Aurora Lights originally formed in Ecuador, and since moving to West Virginia, has led “International Perspectives on Environmental Issues” for WV college students, survival and stewardship classes for high school youth, basic survival skills for elementary and middle school students, and adult education classes in wild edibles and preserving food. Aurora Lights was one of the leaders in the response to the water crisis in southern West Virginia in January 2014, organizing donations and deliveries of water and other essential needs to the small coalfield communities impacted by the coal chemical spill. To learn more about Aurora Lights’ other programs, click here.
Read about our projects and updates in the Mountain SOL newsletters:
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