by Brenda Maguire
Tri County Record Correspondent
On Thursday, Robeson Elementary Center revealed its new edition, a Life Cycle Science Center, during a ribbon ceremony in front of students, teachers and donors. Due to weather conditions, the ceremony was held inside.
“There are so many different things that you can do. We have the gardens with different plants that draw the butterflies in,” said Jean McCarney, a third grade teacher. “Right now we have ant farms out there and worm farms. We raise mealworms to feed the blue birds already, so we can now put them outside.”
The building was given the name The Out Back Nature Center. The students voted on the name.
The ribbon ceremony began with students reading off speeches and poems they wrote about the nature center. Poems were read by McKenna Dillon, Naishalie McPeak, Brock Drahus, Casey Ciofalo and Samantha Persicketti.
The last three lines of Ciofalo’s poem read, “I believe that in the future I will be full of life. / I love my school, and my school loves me. / I am the Nature Center!”
A special “Thank You” was extended to McCarney, who was a key proponent in making the nature center a reality.
“Jean McCarney was instrumental in putting all together,” said Lisa Dieffenbach, a music teacher. “Jean started with the building, got the community volunteers and everything. It’s really neat because it’s a community thing. It’s another thing that brings us closer.”
McCarney was very humble about her involvement in the Nature Center.
“It wasn’t just my idea, it was a group of us. We discussed what we wanted for the kids, and we wanted to get them outside,” said McCarney. “So, we started with the garden and we have the nature trail. The next thing was a place to raise butterflies.”
The Out Back Nature Center would not have been made possible without generous volunteers and donors. Jeremy Troxell of Watkins Architect, LTD was the architect on the project.
The Berks Homes Building Community Connections oversaw the project. This included John D’Angelo, Mike Lutz, Charles Lutz, Bob Hoesch, Gary McEwen and Katie Detweiler, the founder of BHBCC.
“I think these days everybody is so focused on video games and watching television,” said D’Angelo. “I think it is important to help kids focus on the outside and the environment.”
Brock Garber of BG Contracting, Inc. was the builder of the Nature Center.
“Berks Homes contacted me to help them out with the project after they took it on. My daughter is a student here, so it was right up our alley,” said Garber. “We came out and we pretty much have seen the whole project through from start to finish, with help from Berks Homes.”
Kraft Engineering inspected the Nature Center free of cost and Plow Contractors helped with excavating and stone.
Elverson Supply in Elverson, Aluminum Building Products, Inc. in Reading, Green Hills Home Center & Lumber Company in Green Hills, Home Depot in Reading, Lowe’s in Reading and Quality Roofing Supply in Reading donated building materials.
Carleybrook Gardens Tree Service provided mulch and Jim McCarney of Birdsboro helped to design the center and worked on other odd jobs.
Dieffenbach organized the “Monarch Butterfly Song,” by Lucas Miller, to be sung by the entire school.
Following the song, Jean McCarney cut the ribbon with help from kindergarten students Taylor Cook, Maggie McFadden, Shannyn Monaghan, Wyatt Breckenridge and Veronica Giles. Maddie Garber, daughter of Brock Garber, also helped in the ribbon cutting.
“It’s great,” said a teary-eyed McCarney. “They’re excited. They love it when they are involved.”