Join the AOEA Board!

The Outdoor Lab is a partnership between the Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA).

  • APS provides the teachers, educational program and buses.
  • AOEA owns and manages the land and buildings as well as advocates for outdoor education, STEAM curriculum, and hands-on, experiential leaning.

We need  members of the Arlington community to step-up and help us in this critical time for educating our students.  

We need Board Members for the AOEA!

Current and past Board Members have a variety of experience and skills.  Many are parents, teachers or staff of Arlington schools.  Others are scientists, marketing professionals, real estate agents/builders or consultants.  We need a variety of experiences to challenge our organization to improve and grow.

If you are willing to help Arlington children and the Outdoor Lab (or know someone who might) please contact the AOEA President to learn more about our Board of Directors at president@outdoorlab.org.  We elect a slate of Directors at our annual meeting May, but have openings year round.

If you’d like to volunteer to help the Outdoor Lab learn more HERE.

APS Students- Join the AOEA Board

In 2021, the AOEA Board began a student Board Member program.  The Inaugural Student Board Member was Maria Soukup, a senior at Yorktown High School.

The student Board Member participates in AOEA board meetings, offering advice and voting on AOEA business.  They participate in AOEA events at the Outdoor Lab and in Arlington.  And acts a liaison to their schools and student groups in APS.

If you are a rising Junior or Senior at an APS high school and are interested in learning more.  Contact AOEA Board president at president@outdoorlab.org.

Women’s History Month @ODL

The Women who make the Outdoor Lab Great

Phoebe Hall Knipling

The Outdoor Lab owes its existence to Phoebe Hall Knipling. Her vision and determination that children should experience science first hand, led to the creation of the Outdoor Lab and other pillars of Arlington science education like the Brown Planetarium, Gulf Branch and Long Branch Nature Centers. Learn more from a recent story from Arlington Library’s Womens Work series.

Anita Knipling Scott

Phoebe’s daughter Anita has served on the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Lab for years. She’s continued to build on her mother’s vision and helped thousands of Arlington families experience the joys of the Outdoor Lab.

Recently, Anita was interviewed for the Biscuit Mountain Breakdown and shared some of the early history of the Outdoor Lab. Click here to listen to podcast “Walking Down Memory Lane.”

Michele Karnbach

Michele re-joined the Outdoor Lab staff in 2019 as its new Director. She’s guided the ODL through some of the most challenging months in its existence.

She has reorganized the Lab staff and operations, created new curriculum and lessons for synchronous and asynchronous learning, and launched a podcast as well as new weekend activities for families.
Michele is charting the Lab’s path for the next 50 years of the Outdoor Lab.

Kendra Liddicoat

Michele created the Biscuit Mountain Breakdown podcast and interviewed leaders in the field of outdoor education.  Such as Dr. Kendra Liddicoat who researches memories as outcomes for programs like The Outdoor Lab.  Learn about how memories are an important feature of what happens at nature centers and how we can use that research to improve our program.  Click HERE for Podcasts.

ODL Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

The Outdoor Lab staff and board celebrate Native American Heritage Month.  We reflect on the great contributions of Native peoples to our Commonwealth and Country and strive to learn and tell their stories of achievement.  The land of the Outdoor Lab was originally settled by Manahoac peoples, a Siouxan speaking tribal alliance, which descended from Mississippian mound building cultures.  They originally inhabited the Ohio River valley region, with one group migrating east, sometimes called the Eastern Sioux, and another migrating West.

The Manahoac had little interaction with the English colonists in Jamestown and were shielded by the Powhatan confederacy on the coast and Tidewaters.  In addition to diseases introduced by Spanish and English explorers, the Manahoac faced pressure from the Haudenosaunee confederacy (Six Nations of Iroquois) and Susquehannock tribes (Iroquoian speaking, also known as Conestoga) who raided their Piedmont homes. The Manahoac migrated South toward the related Monacan tribes and eventually merged with them and the Siouxan speaking Tutelo, Saponi, and Occaneechi.

What we have learned about the Manahoac culture comes from the few interactions documented by Europeans, often through translators from rival tribes,  and their archaeological record.  They were semi-nomadic and followed the animals they hunted including Deer, Bear, and Eastern Buffalo.  They generally settled near streams and rivers and built palisaded villages with small round or oval dwellings covered with reeds and bark.  They grew the Three Sisters of corn, squash and beans and managed their game lands by prescribed burning of forests.

In 1608,  colonist John Smith explored up the Rappahannock river to its headwaters and documented various tribes and settlements of the Manahoac.  Smith captured a wounded Manahoac warrior named Amorolec who told Smith about the tribes of the Manahoac, their enemies and related tribes who lived from the Fall Line up to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia’s rivers. The Whonkentia were settled in current Fauquier County and we can assume from artifacts found at the Outdoor Lab that other Manahoac tribes were living along Broad Run and its tributaries here at the present Outdoor Lab.

In 1754, Thomas Jefferson observed native peoples conducting ceremonies at a burial mound near his Monticello home in Albemarle County, Virginia.    He later dug into the mound and recorded his findings in an organized fashion as part of his Notes on the State of Virginia (1787).  Jefferson is recognized as an early archaeologist for this work.

The Monacan nation exists today and in 2018 became a federally recognized tribe with tribal land at Bear Mountain in Amherst County, Virginia.  The Monacan nation recognizes the Manahoac as part of their ancestors.  A living history presentation of a Monacan Village can be seen at Natural Bridge State Park.

The Outdoor Lab encourages you to learn more about the Manahoac and other native peoples and their rich history, culture and accomplishments in our history.

AAPI Heritage Month @ODL

This May, the Outdoor Lab and the AOEA celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

With staff and directors with AAPI heritage in our families, we’d like to honor all Asian American and Pacific Islander families, their contributions to science and education and the building of our nation. 

In this time of violence against AAPI individuals and communities, we stand together with all who speak out against hate, bigotry, and exclusion.

Cultural History Project launches for Black History Month

As part of the Outdoor Lab’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, we’re launching a Cultural History Project during Black History Month.

The goal of this project is to research, document, and share the stories of ALL the families who called the mountain gap home..

On a visit with the Afro-American History Association of Fauquier County, Outdoor Lab staff learned that part of the Underground Railroad went through our property.  The oral history was that enslaved people escaping through Fauquier were told “Follow the Pine Mountains” to freedom.

Recent research into our Land Records revealed the names of property owners of our parcels back to the founding of the Colony of Virginia.  These names are a key fact that kick started the research project.  By finding the families, we can reconstruct who lived on and worked the land through time.  We can then build the stories of these families through the artifacts they left on the property and ways they shaped the land.

We will partner with other researchers, families and organizations as we progress with the Cultural History Project.  Please check back to see our progress.  If you have an interest in helping please contact president@outdoorlab.org.

Civil War History at The Lab

We had a special visitor, Dave Goetz, a Civil War historian at the Spring Open House.  He provided a description and history of some of the events that occurred on the Lab property during the Civil War. The most significant activity was in June 1863 when Confederate General JEB Stuart led 4,200 troops through Glasscock Gap, which is on the Lab property, en route to Gettysburg. Stuart ultimately ended up arriving on the second day of the battle, too late to change the Union victory.

Mr. Goetz is an expert on John Singleton Mosby, the Gray Ghost, who had his base of operations in and around Fauquier County, Virginia. He explained that it is very likely that Mosby provided JEB Stuart with the intelligence to use the little know Glasscock Gap to get through the Bull Run Mountains.

Evidence of the Civil War activity has been seen through artifacts found on the Lab property including bullets, Union belt buckle, Confederate buttons and various other metal objects. Anthony recently used a metal detector to find a variety of objects in the Gap. Gary Knipling and Anthony led a hike around the Lab property identifying where the Glasscock Gap is and the likely route of the Civil War troops.

Dave Goetz owns and operates Mosby’s Confederacy Tours, and leads tours in “Mosby’s Confederacy,” including Virginia counties of Fauquier, Loudoun, Warren, Clarke and Fairfax.

dave_goetz
Dave Goetz describing Civil War activity on the Lab property