News

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.

Open House- Sat May 21st 10a-4p*

The Outdoor Lab Open House is REscheduled for Saturday May 21st 10a-1p OR 1p-4p.  

The Outdoor Lab welcomes all Arlington Families to the Open House. Grab your “pod” and explore our 226 acres of mountain trails, meadows, streams and pond.  While at the Lab, your family can: 

  • fish in the pond (cane poles & worms provided!)
  • paddle the boats
  • hike our trails (over 5 miles, various hiking abilities)
  • observe critters in our Nature Center (maybe pet a snake?)
  • find a perfect spot for a family picnic! (bring your lunch!
Get your Tickets!

Due to COVID, we need families to pre-register through Eventbrite here.

  • Please choose EITHER 10a-1p ticket OR 1p-4p ticket (NOT BOTH) This will allow us to meet COVID limits and allow as many families as we can.
  • Each ticket is for one Carload. Please do NOT register for a ticket for each person in your car.
  • Tickets are “donate what you can.” The Outdoor Lab is owned by the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (a 501c3, tax exempt organization)
  • We will create a waitlist if needed, if your plans change and you don’t plan to come, please let us know

For the Safety of Visitors:

  • all visitors must sign in
  • masks must be worn while inside and when social distancing is not possible
  • NO Dogs allowed
  • please leave only footsteps and take only pictures
Other Info

While at the lab, talk to AOEA board members about the upcoming capital projects or how you could volunteer.  We’re looking for additional board members and have lots of great projects on our plate! 

You can find Directions here, look for signs and volunteers on where to park.

Bad weather, check back here for cancellations or updates.  

We look forward to seeing you!  

Share your pictures and tag #LovetheODL

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.

Open House- Sat May 15th 10a-4p*

The Outdoor Lab Open House is scheduled for Sunday October 17th 10a-1p OR 1p-4p.  

The Outdoor Lab welcomes all Arlington Families to the Open House. Grab your “pod” and explore our 226 acres of mountain trails, meadows, streams and pond.  While at the Lab, your family can: 

  • fish in the pond (cane poles & worms provided!)
  • hike our trails (over 5 miles, various hiking abilities)
  • observe critters in our Nature Center (admission in small groups)
  • find a perfect spot for a family picnic! (bring your lunch!)
Get your Tickets!

Due to COVID, we need families to pre-register through Eventbrite here.

  • Please choose EITHER 10a-1p ticket OR 1p-4p ticket (NOT BOTH) This will allow us to meet COVID limits and allow as many families as we can.
  • Each ticket is for one Carload. Please do NOT register for a ticket for each person in your car.
  • Tickets are “donate what you can.” The Outdoor Lab is owned by the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (a 501c3, tax exempt organization)
  • We will create a waitlist if needed, if your plans change and you don’t plan to come, please let us know

For the Safety of Visitors:

  • all visitors must sign in
  • masks must be worn while inside and when social distancing is not possible
  • NO Dogs allowed
  • please leave only footsteps and take only pictures
Other Info

While at the lab, talk to AOEA board members about the upcoming capital projects or how you could volunteer.  We’re looking for additional board members and have lots of great projects on our plate! 

You can find Directions here, look for signs and volunteers on where to park.

Bad weather, check back here for cancellations or updates.  An Open House Rain Date has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday Oct 24th 10a-4p. 

We look forward to seeing you!  

Share your pictures and tag #LovetheODL 

New Monarch Waystation @ ODL

The AOEA and Outdoor Lab staff continually work to improve the eco-system as the Outdoor Lab.

Each year we focus on a few projects in which AOEA volunteers and ODL staff plant native species and remove non-natives.

For the Spring of 2023 planting season, we are targeting a garden area near our cottage where we have been removing invasive Japanese Stiltgrass.  We plan to replace the invasive stiltgrass with native plants to create a Monarch Waystation.

If you’d like to help us with this project, please contact our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@outdoorlab.org.  This project will be on a weekend in Spring of 2023, date and time tbd.

Open House- Sun OCT 16 – 10a-4p

The Outdoor Lab Open House is re-scheduled for Sunday October 16th 10a-1p and 1p-4p.  (We postponed from our original date due to Hurricane Ian)

The Outdoor Lab welcomes all Arlington Families to the Open House. Grab your “pod” and explore our 226 acres of mountain trails, meadows, streams and pond.  While at the Lab, your family can:

  • fish in the pond (cane poles & worms provided!)
  • hike our trails (over 5 miles, various hiking abilities)
  • observe critters in our Nature Center (admission in small groups)
  • find a perfect spot for a family picnic! (bring your lunch!)
Get your Tickets!

Due to COVID, we need families to pre-register through Eventbrite here.

  • Please choose EITHER 10a-1p ticket OR 1p-4p ticket (NOT BOTH) This will allow us to meet COVID limits and allow as many families as we can.
  • Each ticket is for one Carload. Please do NOT register for a ticket for each person in your car.
  • Tickets are “donate what you can.” The Outdoor Lab is owned by the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (a 501c3, tax exempt organization)
  • We will create a waitlist if needed, if your plans change and you don’t plan to come, please let us know

For the Safety of Visitors:

  • all visitors must sign in
  • NO Dogs allowed
  • please leave only footsteps and take only pictures
Other Info

While at the lab, talk to AOEA board members about the upcoming capital projects or how you could volunteer.  We’re looking for additional board members and have lots of great projects on our plate!

You can find Directions here, look for signs and volunteers on where to park.

Bad weather, check back here for cancellations or updates.  An Open House Rain Date has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday October 16th 10a-4p.

We look forward to seeing you!

Share your pictures and tag #LovetheODL

ODL celebrates Hispanic Heritage

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association and the Outdoor Lab Staff celebrate national Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 – Oct 15 annually)

We honor the many Hispanic Americans who have contributed to our schools, community and country.  And celebrate our Latinx students who contribute their talents, skills and culture in all schools every day.

Staff changes @ the ODL

Summer brought many changes to our Outdoor Lab staff.

The AOEA welcomes Rochelle Proctor as our new Outdoor Lab Coordinator and Tim Hymes as an instructional assistant.

We say a heartfelt farewell to Michele Karnbach and Charlie Resnik.

Yvonne Dangerfield had been named by the APS school board to become the Outdoor Lab Administrator, but she decided to retire after a long, successful career at APS.

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) and the Arlington County Public Schools (APS) are partners in the Outdoor Lab.  The Outdoor Lab is owned and maintained by the nonprofit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA).  The Outdoor Lab’s Educational Programs are designed and delivered by staff from Arlington Public Schools.

May 20th 4-8p Fundraiser OneMorePageBooks

Outdoor Lab Fundraiser at One More Page Books

On Friday, May 20, 2022 – 4pm to 8pm

Shop Friday, May 20th between 4pm and 8pm to support the Outdoor Lab! One More Page Books will donate 15% of all sales during those hours – in person and online – to the Arlington Outdoor Education Association.  Meet a great local business and support the ODL.

Browse in person:
One More Page Books (2200 N Westmoreland St, Arlington, VA 22213)
Share with your Friends and Family and #lovetheodl

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.

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.