Official Opening of the Outdoor Education Center - Vermont Commons School Skip to main content

Official Opening of the Outdoor Education Center

Shared by Dexter Mahaffey in News & Notes on October 27th, 2023.

It was a week of coming together as a community and recognizing our success in building something. Three long years passed in a moment, when honored guests cut the ribbon at the Outdoor Education Center Wednesday afternoon. Peter Goff represented the learning community, all the foundations of nature study already envisioned there and the years to come of observing and tracking data and passing it on to future VCS student and faculty scientists. Bethany Gibbs represented the board leadership as current Chair, but also it was Bethany herself who first had the idea of actually acquiring the land at this time in the school’s history and in fact found the 55 acres for sale three years ago that now actually make up the OEC. Craig Heindel, another board member and VCS alum parent, also helped cut the ribbon, and we reflected on the countless hours of site plan design, feedback, and passion for student learning in the outdoors that he embodies in the time he has given to the OEC permitting process over these last three years and continues to give as he works with students actively at the center at this time. And lastly Andrew Furtsch, another board member and former VCS alum parent, helped cut the ribbon and open the OEC. Andrew has spent practically everyday at the OEC since mid-August, overseeing the installation of the driveway and parking lot, building the bathroom surround, and installing and building the boardwalk over the wetland almost entirely himself (with help from the Junior class along the way). These four folks represent the many, many others who’ve put in so much time and energy and support and vision to make the OEC a reality, and they too are full of this vital energy and optimism, believing in the importance of our students getting out into the woods and learning on the land, and from the land. Thank you Bethany, Craig, Andrew, and former Board Chair Kurt Schulz, who together formed a dream team.

The amazing development late last week was the news, which I had the great privilege of announcing at the OEC ribbon cutting ceremony, that a foundation (which has asked to remain anonymous) has pledged a $175,000 matching grant towards the final buildout of the OEC, an amount equal to half of the total cost to build and install the remaining infrastructure there. This incredible support will help propel us incredibly into the final stages of this capital campaign, which we will launch after the first of the year. We are so grateful for this incredible support and for all who’ve brought the dream of an outdoor education center for VCS students present and future to reality. Thank you, a thousand times over; thank you!


Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

Students emerge from their time at Vermont Commons School intrinsically motivated to seek out their role for improving the world, with the skills and competencies to do so.