New afterschool club focuses on nature

BUCKHANNON —  Welcome back to school, B-U kids! This fall, Stockert Youth & Community Center’s (SYCC) afterschool club members will have the opportunity to participate in a new nature, garden, and outdoors club. The club will meet every week, with garden, forestry, water, soils, and wildlife-themed activities. Kids will be asked to create a name for their club and will be involved in planning the club’s activities, including what they might plant in the SYCC greenhouse.

For four sessions in September, club members will try out a pilot program called “Wonder & Grow – Mindful Nature Experience,” a curriculum aimed at bolstering science, math, and language skills through active outdoor experiences. For instance, students may learn about a particular animal species found in West Virginia, like the gray fox, and compare their habitat and biology to that of humans. Then, they might build a fox den or try out fox moves, like crouching, jumping, and climbing. Afterward, they might write in their journal about the experience. Together, the day’s activity will include practice with math, engineering, and language skills, all while getting exercise and learning mindfulness practices. Mindfulness meditation and yoga will be incorporated throughout the activities, teaching kids how to reset and become more resilient in a fast-paced world.

The Wonder & Grow program is funded in part through a grant from Try This West Virginia, a nonprofit organization that supports healthy lifestyle initiatives across the state. West Virginia Wesleyan College has hosted the Try This Conference each year since its inception, and the City welcomes these conference attendees to town. The conference and mini-grants are funded by The Claude Worth Benedum Foundation, WV Office of Child Nutrition, WV Bureau for Public Health, Unicare, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, The Highmark Foundation, Sisters Health Foundation, The Bernard McDonough Foundation, American Heart Association, WVU Rural Health Initiative, WVU Health Sciences Center, WV Development Office, Flex-E Grant program, Appalachian Funders Network, and many other organizations and non-profits.

The City is excited to host attending organizations who do so much good in their communities and beyond. At this year’s conference, SYCC partnered with Valerie Warner & Kate Reed, the founders of Wonder & Grow, to support the activities at the SYCC afterschool club. Along with Beverly Elementary School in Randolph County, SYCC will be a first host location for Wonder & Grow, which plans to expand to locations throughout the region and state.

Ann Ludlow, a retired science teacher (Elkins High School) who lives in Tallmansville, will lead the club at SYCC, which will meet once a week throughout the school year.

Besides the Wonder & Grow activities, club members will plant food, flowers, and trees in the greenhouse for transplanting or sale later. They may also visit natural features at our local parks, such as the learning trail at Riverwalk Park, community vegetable garden & orchard, and the pollinator gardens found throughout the City.

If your child would like to get involved with this club, or any of the other afterschool programming, call Stockert Youth & Community Center at (304) 473-0145. There is still time to enroll in the afterschool program, which costs just $15 per week. Scholarships may be available for those in need.

Stockert Youth & Community Center provides tutoring, after-school activities, recreation and sports classes & leagues, and summer camps for youth and adults in Buckhannon and Upshur County.

To donate to the SYCC capital campaign, call City Hall at (304) 472-1651 or go to:

You may also get involved by volunteering! For SYCC volunteer needs, call the Center at (304) 473-0145 or go to the Buckhannon Volunteer Center website at:

To find out more about Try This WV, and how you can apply for your own grant dollars to put towards increasing healthy food or physical activities go to:



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