JNC Through the Years

  • The natural area known as the Jarrett Nature Center (JNC) was named and dedicated as Hatboro-Horshams Outdoor Classroom in April 2002.   Prior to ownership by the School District , it was part of the Jarrett family farm, including the home, farm buildings, cropland, and pasturelands.  Before its formal recognition and dedication as a nature center, the area of approximately 13 acres was informally used by some of the adjacent elementary school and high school teachers and students for class field trips for science and other academic subjects.  Several years of planning by administrators, teachers and the Simmons Home and School Association (HSA) resulted in setting aside this area as a preserve and as a dedicated environmental education area for use by the Hatboro-Horsham School District and the community. 

     The following Information is courtesy of Karen Czarny

     Origin of the Jarrett Nature Center

    The Nature Center is a rich assemblage of woods, meadow, wetlands, open water, and floodplain.  The first school construction on the property along Babylon Road in 1972 was the building and associated facilities for the Keith Valley Middle School. Since 1992, this building and grounds have served Simmons Elementary School.  The Hatboro-Horsham (H-H) High School and its facilities were built xx years later on a portion of the same property.  The intervening land, now the Jarrett Nature Center , remained undisturbed as it is today and is not suitable for development due to the sensitive environmental conditions and the local and state regulations that 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. 

    During the summer of 1991, Shawn McNally, an Eagle Scout with Explorer Post 2081, in cooperation with his Scout Master Bob Pessolano and his father, Scout Commissioner Joe McNally planned and constructed an effective environmental outdoor classroom.  Shawn envisioned the project, designed it, coordinated all labor and materials and with over 300 hours of work, gave HHSD students their first outdoor classroom complete with benches, teaching podium and paths.  This was the first Eagle Scout project and the beginnings of Jarrett Nature Center as a learning environment.

    In 2000, the Simmons Principal, teachers, and HSA members decided to prepare a Master Plan to better identify the areas characteristics, assets, and needed improvements to ensure its future use for educational and recreational purposes. Having a nature center in the School District within walking distance or a short drive from each school is considered a highly valued resource.   Further, this center is viewed as an invaluable resource to enrich the curriculum consistent with the recently approved State Academic Standards.  Among the State standards that can be served by the Nature Center are: Environment and Technology, Science and Technology, and Geography.  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.  

    A special thank you to Carolyn Koch

    Carolyn Koch taught at Simmons Elementary and later served as a math coach for the school district.  But it is her love of the outdoors, in particular, the Jarrett Nature Center, that makes her so special to us. In the 2000s, Mrs. Koch would frequently take her second grade students to, what she then called, the "outdoor classroom." In 2002, thanks to her dedication and perseverance, the "Jarrett Nature Center, Hatboro-Horsham's Outdoor Classroom" was dedicated. Mrs. Koch remains actively involved at the JNC today, and is considered to be the heart of the nature center. In 2009, this pictorial history of the Jarrett Nature Center was compiled on the occasion of the retirement of Carolyn Koch from Hatboro-Horsham School District.

    View our history book!