Amity Twp. com­mu­nity ded­i­cates Na­ture Cen­ter

Project in the works for past four years fi­nally comes to fruition

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Denise Larive

The idea four years ago of a gar­den for stu­dents has grown into a large com­mu­nity ef­fort re­sult­ing in a Na­ture Cen­ter and trail, pav­il­ion, and gar­den, all lo­cated be­hind the Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter.

The new Daniel Boone In­ter­me­di­ate Cen­ter Na­ture Cen­ter was ded­i­cated on Satur­day, April 22, as part of Earth Day 2017 ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I’m thank­ful for the peo­ple who had the vi­sion and raised the money [to build the Na­ture Cen­ter],” said Dane Miller, prin­ci­pal of Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter.

Miller said the vi­sion­ary for a student gar­den and the woods trail was el­e­men­tary teach­ers Elaine Mein­hart and Diane Hefter.

“It started years and years ago at the Amity Pri­mary Cen­ter, with the teach­ers who did Earth Day ac­tiv­i­ties each year with the stu­dents, and cre­ated a cut-flower gar­den,” said Miller.

He said that when staff re­al­ized that the flower gar­den would need to be moved to ac­com­mo­date build­ing ex­pan­sions and bus drive­ways, Mein­hart, Hefter and other staff were rais­ing money through fundrais­ers.

They also re­ceived a grant from Lowe’s Home Im­prove­ment for the $10,000 project.

“When this all started, I didn’t know how much it meant. We en­vi­sioned all of this. It was a strug­gle,” said Mein­hart, re­fer­ring not only to the work but also to the van­dal­ism that oc­curred to the gar­den, trail, and pic­nic ta­bles.

Teach­ers worked for three years com­post­ing, dig­ging, and shov­el­ing — on in-ser­vice days and week­ends — to get it up and run­ning.

The Na­ture Trail was orig­i­nally con­ceived by Seth Hayik, as his Ea­gle Scout project for Boy Scout Troop 597, Ami­tyville.

Other Ea­gle Scout projects in­cluded Wil­lie Beam, who in-

stalled drainage and re­vived the trail; Wally Shee­han, who built the storage shed, and Ryan Henry, who built eight ADA ac­ces­si­ble “knock­down” pic­nic ta­bles for the pav­il­ion area, re­paired gar­den ar­eas, built a rail­ing for the trail’s foot bridge and also built an­other bridge.

Daniel Boone In­ter­me­di­ate Cen­ter Na­ture Cen­ter ded­i­ca­tion in­vi­ta­tions rec­og­nized the fol­low­ing peo­ple who made the Na­ture Cen­ter pos­si­ble: Ed Key, Lenny Smith, Jackie An­tolic, Adri­enne Evans, Rose­mary Skomitz, and Judy Reitz, teach­ers who cared for the gar­den; Jenny DeMild, who se­cured fund­ing to com­plete and ex­pand the project, and Natalie Bischof and Heidi Fisher, for their ex­per­tise with plants and wa­ter.

Also rec­og­nized were Walt Shee­han, who co­or­di­nated the ef­forts of the Boy Scouts to build new struc­tures; mem­bers of Boy Scout Troop 597; stu­dents from River Rock Acad­emy who moved the shed to its new lo­ca­tion and cleared the trail and gar­den, to the Daniel Boone PTC, who pro­vided fund­ing for the pav­il­ion pad, and the Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter Com­mu­nity and the Blazer Foun­da­tion for pav­il­ion and trail fund­ing.


Elaine Mein­hart speaks dur­ing the ded­i­ca­tion event on April 22. She helped de­velop the school’s woods trail and the gar­den.

Ryan Henry built the “knock­down” pic­nic ta­bles and re­built the bridges. Here he demon­strates the strength and dura­bil­ity of the ta­bles he con­structed.


A view of the the out­door class­room.

The gar­den at Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter.


The sign on the en­trance of the gar­den at Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter.


Dane Miller, Wal­ter Shee­han, a leader in Boy Scout Troop 597 and who co­or­di­nated the ef­forts of the Boy Scouts to build new struc­tures, and Ryan Henry, who built the pic­nic ta­bles, etc.


From left to right are teacher Jackie An­tolic, Lenny Smith, Dane Miller and Ed Key. Miller is prin­ci­pal of Amity El­e­men­tary Cen­ter, the oth­ers have cared for the gar­den and have been in­volved since the be­gin­ning.

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