May 16th- AOEA Annual Meeting

Since we had to cancel our Spring Open House, when we normally have the AOEA annual meeting, we will now meet virtually on Saturday May 16th at 12 noon. 

If you are interested in participating, send an email to and details will be provided. 

The primary agenda item will be the AOEA board elections – but we will also provide information about the “State of the Lab”.  Hope you can join us – stay safe and “keep the fires burning”.

President’s Note- Budget Emergency


The future of the Arlington Outdoor Lab is at stake – we need your help now to convince the School Board to restore funding for the Lab in the 2019-20 APS budget.

The Superintendent’s proposed budget eliminates all funding for the Outdoor Lab. That’s right – it cuts every teacher, every bus, and every school trip to the Lab. Unless the School Board votes to restore the funding, Arlington students will no longer experience unique STEM and outdoor education at the Lab.

Time is Short

We don’t have much time to convince School Board members to restore this devastating elimination of the OL program. The School Board meets on April 9 to make revisions to the Superintendent’s proposal. Board members need to hear from you about the importance of funding the Lab before then.

It’s a tough budget year and the Superintendent has proposed almost $9 million in cuts. The School Board is already hearing from many others urging them to fund important programs identified for budget cuts.

The Outdoor Lab Needs Your Help!

Supporters of the Lab – parents, students, summer campers, and teachers – we need your help to make our voices heard. If Board members hear from us about the value of the Lab, then we’ll be in a much stronger position to convince them to restore essential funding.

You know the Outdoor Lab is a special place for seeing science come to life, taking a hike in the woods, and sleeping in a tent under the stars. The Lab is a unique resource for students in Arlington Public Schools. We need your voice to help ensure the Lab continues to serve thousands of Arlington students next school year.

Act Now!

Please take a minute to tell members of the School Board how important it is to fully fund the Outdoor Lab in the 2019-20 APS budget. Feel free to use the sample comment here – and personalize it based on your family’s experience at the Lab.

It’s critically important to contact School Board members before April 9 when they will vote on changes to the Superintendent’s proposed budget.

Todd Parker, President AOEA

Lab Notes- October 2018


Mike & Pam Nardolilli
(Farewell Salamander Cake by Martine McNabola)

President’s Letter – 

Mike – “Thank you for your service”!

After 17 years on the Board of Directors for the Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) 14 as President-Mike Nardolilli has “retired.”  Mike’s stewardship of the Lab during this period has been profound and long lasting.  His many accomplishments include:
* Negotiation and execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with Arlington Public Schools (APS) (Instead of an annual $1 rent payment – the MOU began with a formula of essentially $10 for each APS student visiting the lab – approximately 9,000 annually).
* Purchase of an additional 36 acres of land adjacent to the Lab.
* Repairs to the pond/dam, Striker Cottage, boat dock and fishing platform, new entrance to the Lab with safer bus passage, two tiny houses for staff overnight accommodations, and the replacement of the animal Lab with a $750,000 LEED-certified building.
* Increase in an additional APS staff member at the Lab.
* Partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to perform trail work at the Lab.
* Raised over $100,000 during 50th Anniversary celebrations that will be used for other capital programs at the Lab including land acquisitions and the replacement of the Striker Cottage.
During the June AOEA Board meeting, Todd Parker, was elected President, Mike Maleski Vice-President, Claire Hardie Treasurer and Mary Ann Penning as Secretary.  We all appreciate the dedication and hard work that Mike and his family provided to the AOEA and the Outdoor Lab over the last 17 years.  We will continue to build on the solid foundation that he has developed.
Todd Parker, President AOEA

fishing pier

Fall Open House
Friends and families, come out to the Lab for our Fall 2017 Community Open House.  It is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 29, 12-4 pm. In addition to activities on the pond, we’ll have fishing, a cookout, hiking and the animal lab.  Check our web site ( in case in inclement weather.
Hope to see you there!


Jessica Leslie
Our new staff member is long time Outdoor Lab volunteer, Jessica Leslie (Ms. Bat).  She has a long connection to the Lab as a parent and now as a staff member!
Clare McLean
This Summer we said “good bye” to Clare McLean (Mrs. Fox), an Outdoor Lab staff member since 2010.  She accepted a new position at Abington Elementary school. We wish her the best in the future and hope she will still occasionally visit the Lab.
Learning at the Outdoor Lab!
By Christine Payack (Miss Turtle)
Look! A long sinewy millipede crawls under decaying bark.
Feel! Soft caterpillars and slimy slugs undulate across our hands.
Listen! Nocturnal owls call while the stream gurgles in the darkness.
Sniff! The smell of moist leaves drifts through the air.
These are some of the learning moments that take hold of our senses at the Outdoor Lab –a place protected and far removed from urban encroachment. In this living classroom, we “explore, wonder and learn” and develop a deep love and respect for the natural world.
How can this jewel of nature be best investigated as an extension of the Arlington Public Schools’ science curriculum? How can the Outdoor Lab best support each school community as partners in learning?
With teacher input and advice, we are developing new lessons to tap into all that the Lab has to offer. By identifying key life science concepts that vertically integrate and spiral through the grades, our comprehensive and fluid activity choices will meet the needs of teachers and their students during the school year.
The Animal Lab is being transformed into a microcosm of our diverse 225-acre facility. It is here that students investigate the natural world through the lens of the indigenous animal ambassadors who reside there. Through their stories, the animals teach us all about the species that interact and depend on each other in their food webs, habitats and communities beyond the Animal Lab‘s doors.
Outside, students continue to explore the natural world through active and hands-on learning and observation. As scientific thinkers, they ask questions, build knowledge and expand on science principles, such as change, cycles, patterns and relationships in the living world.
What are some of the essential questions and themes that cycle through the seasons?
“What is an ecosystem?”
“How does energy flow through a food chain?”
“How do organisms depend on each other in their habitats and communities?”
“What are the roles of producers, consumers and decomposers in their environments?”
“What are the life cycles of living organisms?”
“How do specific adaptations and traits allow an organism to survive in its environment?”
“Why and how do scientists classify organisms into different categories?”
“What is the human impact on the natural world?”
“How can we positively impact the survival of the living world around us today and in the future?”
Come join us any day to investigate these questions while you . . .
Look, touch, smell and hear!
Explore, wonder and learn!
And protect the best classroom of all –the one that is outdoors!
Williamsburg Middle School PTA
Long Branch Elementary School PTA
Discovery Elementary School
Jamestown 5th Grade Gift
Oakridge Elementary School PTA
Arlington Traditional School PTA
Tuckahoe-Glebe Basketball Game
Arlington Retired Teacher’s Association
An important part of AOEA contributions come from schools and individual donations.  Donations can be made through “1st day packets” and on line (see below).  We also get “special” contributions – last year the Jamestown 5th grade class gave the Outdoor Lab support that was used to purchase new tents and life preservers.  For the past two years Tuckahoe elementary school has held a basketball fundraiser – this year it was against Glebe school – the Outdoor Lab was the biggest winner receiving over $3,900!   Big or small all donations are appreciated and show how passionate our supporters are!
Are you passionate about outdoor education?  Want to help preserve the Outdoor Lab for the next 50 years?  Consider joining us as a member of the AOEA Board.  We are interested in attracting Board members with a variety of talents – social media, communications, IT/data base management, fund raising/grant management, volunteer coordination, and APS liasion.  Contact us through the e-mail (link below).
President:          Todd Parker
Vice President:  Mike Maleski
Treasurer:          Claire Hardie
Secretary:          Mary Ann Penning
Committee Chairpersons
Facilities & Maint.:    Bob Schrider
Fundraising:             Ron Oleynik
Outreach:                 Carol Goodloe
Other Board Members:
Paul Diehl,  Felix Herrera, Sarah Jensen,
Scott Kovarovics, Anita Scott