History of HHSD Outdoor Classroom

  • Prior to ownership by the School District, the 13 acres of which The Jarrett Nature Center is a portion, was part of the Jarrett familys working farm for over 150 years. The original structures included a house, a barn, and a springhouse as well as other farm buildings.

    Morris Jarrett, the last member of the family to farm the property, raised vegetables that were sold to the Campbell Soup Company and maintained a herd of dairy cattle.

    After the Jarrett family moved, land planning was undertaken and part of the property was developed for school buildings. The first school construction on the property along Babylon Road in 1972 was the building and associated facilities for the Keith Valley Middle School. In 1992, the new Hatboro-Horsham (H-H) High School was built on the other end of the property, and Keith Valley Middle School was converted to Simmons Elementary School. The interior land is a rich assemblage of woods, meadow, wetlands, pond, and floodplain. It is not suitable for development due to the sensitive environmental conditions and local and state regulations which limit its use.

    Allowed to revert to natural conditions from the early 1970s, this area became an ideal place to further the goals of preservation, enhancement, and use for environmental education, nature appreciation, and passive recreation. It was informally used by some teachers and students for science and other academic area class field trips. Several years of planning by administrators, teachers and the Simmons Home and School Association (HSA) resulted in establishing this intervening area as a preserve and dedicated environmental education area for use by the Hatboro-Horsham School District and the community. The area was officially named the Jarrett Nature Center (JNC) and dedicated as Hatboro-Horshams Outdoor Classroom in April 2002.

    Today the Nature Center is used by students of all ages from first graders measuring ingredients for trail mix and identifying geometric shapes in nature at "Math Camp" to high school students collecting data for environmental studies class. All District fifth graders use the JNC to collect data and observations for a science-based technology project about preserving the natural environment. The Nature Center is also a source of inspiration for writing and art classes. The newly renovated outdoor fireplace is now a story teller's chair thanks to the skills of senior ceramic arts students. The JNC offers hands-on teaching and viewing opportunities for a wide range of habitats from upland meadow and woods to flowing water and wetlands. Members of the community also enjoy the benefit of having this special place for taking walks or observing nature.

    Our community plays a vital role in the continued development of the JNC. Employees of Motorola Corporation volunteer a day of service at the Nature Center and have helped dig holes for trees, move wood chips, and other needed Nature Center maintenance activities. The Hatboro-Horsham Education Foundation has provided the financial support to complete many of the projects that provide innovative learning opportunities for students in the Nature Center including designated backpacks equipped with standards-based lessons and equipment, digital cameras and Nova laptop computers, and two enclosures with deer fencing so students can observe the impact of deer browsing on forests. Five Eagle Scouts have chosen to complete projects here. The Park Creek Watershed Association has a representative on the Advisory Board and participates in the annual Earth Day celebration. The combined effort of educators and community members has made the Jarrett Nature Center an engaging place for all to enjoy.

    The Jarrett's