Research shows that time spent in natural settings has life-enhancing benefits. The St. George’s Great Outdoors (SGGO) initiative connects students to the natural world and boosts their appreciation and understanding of the environment. SGGO fosters stewardship of our beautiful campuses and surrounding communities while encouraging students to explore and appreciate the inherent beauty of God’s creation. In doing so, SGGO promotes self-reliance, mutual respect and a life-long appreciation for the great outdoors that will have a meaningful impact in everyday life. SGGO promotes leadership through outdoor experiences, both here on our own campus and there in the rest of God’s creation.
Our Collierville campus sits on nearly 250 acres adjacent to the Wolf River, creating a natural ecological and environmental classroom for our middle and upper school students. More than half of this property is undeveloped hardwood forests. With nearly three miles of trails to explore and two on-campus ponds, students regularly encounter wetlands, sandy beaches along the Wolf River, and a diversity of wildlife.
An integral part of SGGO’s mission is maintenance of our campus trails. Service opportunities for trailblazing and trail maintenance are held throughout the year, with an annual service event on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. These events are important not only for the trails, but as hands-on opportunities for students to take ownership as stewards of our campus’ natural resources.
As a Tennessee Urban Forestry Council certified arboretum, our campus is used for educational events by the Wolf River Conservancy, a nonprofit organization focused on the conservation and enhancement of the Wolf River watershed. Our students also provide groundwater samples that CAESER, an earth science and engineering research collaborative at the University of Memphis, uses to determine the health of our city’s most valuable natural resource – the Memphis Sands Aquifer.
Stewardship of these educational resources requires maintaining a healthy ecosystem on our campus through the removal of invasive species, the surveillance of plant species communities, and the monitoring of water quality in wetland areas.
Access to amazing natural resources carries a responsibility of stewardship. SGGO fosters an appreciation for the environment through outdoor opportunities, which reinforces to students that modifying their everyday behaviors can have great benefit to the environment. St. George's conservation efforts receive substantial support from the school community and include the student-led Recycling Club, which leads energy and water conservation competitions throughout the year. Due to these efforts, St. George's received a bronze rating from the Shelby County Sustainable Schools Challenge, first place in the Green Schools Alliance Green Cup Challenge, and the Good Sports Always Recycle Sustainability Steward Award.
Common experiences across classrooms and grade levels are valuable tools in helping students turn book knowledge into real-world applications – and this type of learning can be dirty! With gardens on all three of our campuses, students collaborate to produce bountiful harvests!
Beginning in our early childhood classrooms, students have hands-on opportunities to work in the gardens. Lower school campus gardens are used in developmentally appropriate ways to reinforce lessons taught in the classroom. Students plan what to plant, monitor plant growth, and harvest the produce which is consumed in their classrooms.
On the Collierville campus, the middle school garden, located directly behind the main school building, provides teacher-led, hands-on opportunities to grow herbs and vegetables that are often used in the dining room. In addition, student-driven Suburban Farms 70-foot hoop house provides the opportunity to experience all parts of the agricultural process – from tilling and planting to watering and harvesting. Paired with Birds and Bees, another student-led organization that maintains chickens and bees and harvests eggs and honey, students learn and engage in sustainable farming.
Founded as a club for the purpose of leading outdoors trips, SGGO remains dedicated to offering annual backpacking, kayaking, and dogsledding trips. As the outreach branch of SGGO, the SGGO Outing Club plans off-campus trips and on-campus events. Every year, the SGGO Outing Club goes backpacking in the Smoky Mountains and the Ozarks, dog sledding in Maine, kayaking on the Wolf River, and plans on-campus campouts, fall and spring festivals, and multi-day summer trips. Whether backpacking, dog sledding or simply sitting by a campfire, the Outing Club provides opportunities for all students to step outside their comfort zone, experience God’s creation, and hopefully spark a lifelong passion for the outdoors.
Your browser doesn't support video.
Please download the file: video/mp4
IN THIS SECTION