Bar-T Celebrates Earth Day 2017

Posted by on April 21, 2017

It may sound cliche, but every day is Earth Day here at Bar-T. In each of our programs, we focus on our environment and how our actions impact the world we live in. Here are just a few ways we incorporate environmentalism into our programming:

Our fearless leader, Joe Richardson, Sr., is our Owner-turned-Environmental Advocate who continues to push Bar-T into the cutting edge of Environmental Education. Everything that we will be highlighting here has happened because of this catalyst of change. Joe Sr, as we affectionately call him, has been running summer camps since 1984 and after purchasing a 115-acre farm, which would become the Bar-T Mountainside property, in 2002, he discovered his passion for environmental land stewardship.

We could write a book on all of the ways Joe Sr has led our troops in environmental stewardship… he first installed a windmill and solar panels on the property, then came the Clivus Multrum composting toilets, an aeration system in our ponds, and a recycling program that eliminates trash at camp, a farm where students of all ages can learn (more on that coming!), Harvest Clubs for school year children, Harvest Camp for Summer Campers, Environmental Education programs that are taught across local school districts, a sustainable green building, and is now heading into a Wetlands Restoration Project! Whew. There’s more, but we’re tired just thinking about all that he has going on! Let’s just say that everything below this line of texts exists because of Joe Sr’s passion and determination to connect people with the environment and help them understand the positive impact that they can make.

Walk into any Kids Club, Pre-K class, or Mountainside group, say “Farmer Nick,” and be prepared for the barrage of stories of the cool things he helped them grow, cook, or eat! When he’s not at Mountainside working in the high wind tunnel or on the farm growing crops, he’s sharing his passion and knowledge with kids in Harvest Club and Harvest Camp. His celebrity status is well-deserved as he even taught 3 and 4 year olds how to make kale chips. Parents couldn’t believe that the kids were willingly eating kale… and loving it!

Have you ever wondered how your food gets from the ground to your table? Wonder no more in the most unique camp you’ll find all year. Farmer Nick teaches campers how our food grows, kids plant their own vegetables, and are taught how to cook the things that they harvest. It’s a camp unlike any other.

Campers spend a portion of the day working the land in our garden and greenhouse, and another part of the day learning how to cook what we’ve harvested. We can’t wait to see the great meals they put together during Weeks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 this year!

Our green building is almost finished and we simply cannot wait to open it up for you! It boasts a geothermal heating system, composting toilets, special sustainable building materials (walls made out of compressed wood chips, what?!), a skylight that eliminates the need for artificial light, and more! It will use approximately 50% less energy of other buildings it’s size and is a gorgeous location for local groups to host meetings, educational seminars, mitzvahs, and weddings! Keep your eyes out for more about this building when it’s completed in May!

“Mom, Bar-T was at my school today!”
“Umm, Honey, you don’t go to Bar-T.”
“Yes, Mom, they visited my classroom!”

Our team of Environmental Educators spend the school year visiting schools, and hosting them at Mountainside, teaching local children some very valuable lessons:

  • A Raindrop’s Journey allows students to follow Rainaldo, Mountainside’s favorite raindrop, as he travels from his cloud to the creek and on to the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Away We Grow invites students to explore the life cycle of a plant and the basics of a habitat through a combination of engaging lessons. 
  • CSI Creek Scene Investigators is a lesson that allows students to take on the role of citizen scientists as they develop the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate the health of tributaries within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  • May the Force Be With You is a unique exploration of Force and Motion. It utilizes Bar-T Mountainside’s Giant Swing as a model of a pendulum, allowing students the opportunity to experience firsthand the concepts of Force, Motion, and Energy. Students will also participate in a variety of low ropes challenges that support a deeper understanding of quarter one Thinking and Academic Success Skills.
  • Power it Up is an engaging hands on investigation of wind as a viable source of renewable energy in Maryland, through the use of model wind turbines. Students work in collaborative groups with their chrome books and the materials we provide to build, test, and re-work turbine designs. Students demonstrate their flexible and critical thinking as they work to improve their model’s output based on data collection and observations of their peers. Read about Wayside Elementary’s Power it Up Lesson!
  • WATTS UP is an engaging exploration of electricity and conservation that brings hands-on learning stations into your classroom. Students will learn what current sources generate Maryland’s electricity, why renewable sources are good for our environment and why it’s important to make sure we turn off the lights when we leave the classroom!

Remember those Kale Chips we mentioned?! Yep, that was during our Fall Fest Field Trip for all of the Pre-K students across Bar-T classes. Our Pre-K friends are actually heading up to Mountainside in two weeks for their annual Earth Day Field Trip where they’ll revisit the farm, explore the nature trails, release the butterflies that they’re watching grow (they’re in their chrysalis’ now!) and spend their day focusing on how to make the Earth a better place! The Creative Curriculum allows our teachers to incorporate Environmental Education in all of their lessons and we find that our students graduate the program with an understanding of what it means to be a good citizen of the planet.

Do you follow us on Instagram?! If so, you’ve bound to have seen a post from one of the 30+ Harvest Clubs that we’ve hosted this year. Farmer Nick teams up with Kids Club staff to create a club curriculum that allows children to help plant the seeds, watch their vegetables grow, harvest their food, and turn raw ingredients into delicious snacks! We need to get Farmer Nick’s pesto recipe because our taste testers at Harvest Club haven’t stopped raving about their home grown basil and how awesome it tasted once they made the sauce out of it!

Bar-T Holding Inc is proud to announce that we’ve greened our electricity with 100% all-American wind Renewable Energy Credits from Nextility. All of our energy consumption at our camps and Main Office have switched to this renewable energy source. We’re now taking the fight to climate change one megawatt hour of electricity at a time.

As we said in the beginning, every day is Earth Day here at Bar-T. We’ve hit a few of our programs, but there’s other programs in place and we always have more on the horizon. We’re grateful for our Bar-T community who embraces our mission and allow us to expand our educational offerings in new and innovative ways. Happy Earth Day, friends!