Special to the Register
From a high school language arts teacher who wants to immerse her classes in a “Walden experience” to wide-eyed elementary schoolchildren on nature-packed field trips to college students performing research, Eastern Kentucky University’s Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory is growing in popularity.
The 1,700-acre natural area, approximately 22 miles southwest of the Richmond campus, welcomed more than 1,200 K-12 students this past academic year, as well as more than 500 college students from EKU and elsewhere. In addition, many community groups (Boy Scouts, etc.) used the facility, which includes a lodge, lake, amphitheater, hiking trails, and more.
Still, there’s room for more visitors and, always, more educational opportunities, according to Dr. Melinda Wilder, director of EKU’s Division of Natural Areas, which manages Maywoods.
Most of the visiting classes come from area elementary schools, but older students can benefit as well. GEAR UP programs at some area middle schools are among those using the facility.
“The primary thing is that students of all ages can see real-life applications of what they’re learning in the classroom,” Wilder said, “not only in their science classes, but other disciplines, such as mathematics, social studies and even language arts.”
EKU makes available activity kits that include equipment geared to various ecosystems such as forests, fields and streams. Also, teachers can utilize online manuals that include lesson plans, activity sheets and journal templates.
Some groups stay overnight in the lodge and enjoy night hikes, storytelling, campfires, astronomy lessons and even cooking their own meals.
Maywoods is also open (daylight hours only) to the public for fishing (April 1 to Oct. 31) and hiking.
Wilder hopes to increase the use of Maywoods for ecological research and possibly develop a “citizen science” programs.
Maywoods straddles Garrard and Rockcastle counties in a section of Kentucky known as The Knobs. Because the property is a Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, all native wildlife and their habitats are protected. Development and human activities are confined to specific areas.
The lodge, located at the edge of Edmiston Lake, features a large meeting/dining room. A full kitchen is available and lodging in semi-private rooms can be provided for up to 40 people. Audio-visual equipment also is available.
The cost for Maywoods is $40 per day per school trip, with overnight lodging at $8 a guest.
Wilder emphasized that Maywoods is only available for environment- or education-related reasons and not for purely social uses.
To make reservations for Maywoods, contact the EKU Division of Natural Areas at 622-1476. For more information about Maywoods and EKU’s other natural areas, visit www.naturalareas.eku.edu.