Nature trail gets attention from Indiana

Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More than 40 people from Indiana are using their spring break to help elementary students reclaim their outdoor classroom.

The work is being conducted during Chapel Rock Christian Church’s third trip to South Mississippi. This time the group brought with them 43 students and adults to help in two locations — Wiggins and Poplarville. Heavy duty chain-saw work is taking place in Wiggins while clearing work is being done at Poplarville Upper Elementary’s Nature Center.

The first trip the group took to Mississippi involved some demolition work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, said Chapel Rock Christian Church member Rick Belcher. The second trip by church members involved more demolition work and some construction work, Belcher said.

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Mary Alexander, Poplarville Upper Elementary’s Nature Center coordinator, said the Nature Center has not been usable since Katrina.

“We hate to have such a wonderful resource and not be able to use it,” Alexander said.

The efforts of the church group will make the Nature Center usable for all students, both able-bodied and handicapped.

“I keep telling kids if their grandma could walk down the trail, then it’s okay,” Belcher said.

Alexander said the Nature Center features a number of learning activities for the students. Different centers focus on math, science, teamwork and self esteem. Those activities include using a math formula to determine the age of a large tree, using teamwork to balance on a large see-saw piece of equipment, and building communication skills in a mock mine field course. Fourth Graders are preparing to plant a garden that will be capable of producing fruit and ingredients to be used for pizza, salads and soup, Alexander said. The students are preparing to plant potatoes, onions, tomatoes, blueberries and bell peppers, to name a few of the species to be planted there.

Missionaries from the Indiana-based church will work in Poplarville until Thursday before heading out Friday Morning, Belcher said. Not only do they conduct missions in the United States but overseas as well, he said. The church prompts young children to get involved in missions so they will continue as they get older.

The group will be staying at the Pearl River Baptist Association in McNeill.