The Avon Grove Charter School is located in the heart of Pennsylvania's rural southern Chester County, an area which has experienced significant and ongoing environmental pressure from industrial, corporate agricultural and residential development. In fact, a number of recent studies have identified Chester County as the fastest growing region in the state of Pennsylvania. Needless to say, the environmental impact of this kind of change has been enormous. Still, when many Pennsylvanians think of the southern half of Chester County, they imagine the sun-drenched fields and rural beauty one sees in the work of the Wyeth Family (who lived just across the Chester/Delaware County border in Chadds Ford.) The landscapes with which the Wyeths were so familiar are now on the verge of disappearing forever.
However, with change comes opportunity, and we are now at a point in the development of Chester County in which the conservation efforts of students can have a very positive and authentic impact on our region. When one considers problems on a global scale, the challenges we face can seem overwhelming; however, here in Chester County, change is possible, and our student can become very active and powerful change-agents!
At the same time, exposure to the natural world can have innumerable positive outcomes for our students. The work of Richard Louv, among others, has provided very convincing evidence that exposure to the "great outdoors" can provide students with a degree of balance and peace which can help them become more effective learners (across subject areas). In addition, the natural world is a kind of “living laboratory” within which students can explore weighty scientific issues which will become increasingly important as our society comes to understand the need for conservation, resource management and overall sustainability.
It is also important to keep in mind that we are witnessing a “greening” of the American economy which promises untold opportunities for students in an increasingly environmentally-sensitive marketplace. As societies across the globe exhaust their natural resources, the demand for making use of renewable resources will increase, and students who can apply the concepts introduced through environmental science classes will be at a distinct advantage.
Ultimately, The Avon Grove Charter School’s Green Initiative is a dynamic program which combines:
- discovery-based learning
- environmental science subject matter
- direct experience with the “great outdoors”
- a deep sense of optimism that students can initiate real and lasting ecological change
The AGCS Conservation Area
One of the proudest and most meaningful manifestations of the Green Initiative, is the AGCS Conservation Area. This beautiful and biologically diverse zone is the centerpiece of the Avon Grove Charter's 23 acre main campus. It beautifully show cases the hands-on conservation work of our students, staff and volunteers.
The Bartram Greenhouse at AGCS
Pennsylvania winters can be brutally cold and although wintertime can provide some excellent opportunities to explore the impact of the changing seasons on local wildlife, extremely cold weather can drive even the most intrepid students indoors.
It is, therefore, very exciting that we have the Bartram Greenhouse on our campus! We owe a world of thanks to the generosity of the Dockstader Foundation and our friends at the Lowe's of Avondale for making this project a reality for us. Named after the father and son team of "botanical explorers" from colonial Philadelphia, this on-campus resource will provide our students with new opportunities to expand their understanding the beauty and complexity of the world around them.
The greenhouse enables AGCS students to work on environmental science projects in a hands-on manner even in the depths of winter. AGCS students use this space to grow plant and tree species that have been declining in southern Chester County over the last 50 years. These plants and trees are then transferred to the AGCS Conservation Area.
The AGCS Green Initiative also plans to cultivate native trees and shrubs which can be used by conservation organizations to promote reforestation throughout the county (and within Franklin Township in particular.) The Bartram greenhouse advances the innovative educational models AGCS has been championing since the school's inception in 2002. It also provides a setting in which students can give back to their community and their environment in an meaningful and authentic way.
How You Can Help
The Avon Grove Charter School is a publicly-funded, privately managed charter school, and on average, our school receives less than 68% of the funding accorded to traditional public schools in our area. Therefore, we are continually challenged to do more with less. Thankfully, innovative programming like the Green Initiative has received support both in the form of grants, and private donations from businesses and members of our AGCS community.
If you would like to support the AGCS Green Initiative with a tax-deductible donation, please send a check or money order with your contact information to:
Avon Grove Charter School
Green Learning Initiative
110 East State Road
West Grove, PA 19390
- Green Initiative Flickr Page
Photographs from AGCS Green Initiative activities, both recent and in the past! Includes gorgeous views of the AGCS Conservation area.
- AGCS Facebook Page
The AGCS Facebook Page. Includes news, stories, photos and other GI information.
- Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited has been a consistent source of support for AGCS's Green Initiative! We are especially grateful to TUs Valley Forge chapter for their assistance!
- Wild and Scenic White Clay Creek
The beautiful White Clay Creek runs through our AGCS conservation area and is the heart of our regional watershed. AGCS works with the "Wild and Scenic Rivers" organization to protect this precious resource.
- London Grove Township
AGCS's main campus is located within London Grove Township. AGCS received "Green Award" from the township in 2010 for its innovative conservation work!
- The Dockstader Foundation
The Dockstader Foundation has consistently and generously supported the work of the AGCS Green Initiative. The Foundation's sponsorship of GI projects has been essential to our success.
- Dansko Footwear
Dansko is a business located in the center of our community, and has a reputaton for its "green" business practices. The Dansko Foundation has provided very generous support for AGCS Green Initiative Projects.
- American Forest Foundation / Project Learning Tree
Projet Learning Tree is a nationwide framework established by the American Forest Foundation to support environmental education. AGCS has received PLT support for its species restoration projects in the AGCS Conservation Area.
- The Brandywine Conservancy
The Brandywine Creek is, aside from the Susquehanna River, one of the largest and most important waterways in our region. The Brandywine Conservancy, more than any other organization, has worked to preserve the Brandywine watershed and the splendor of field, farms, and forests that line its banks.
- The Natural Lands Trust
The Natural Lands Trust has worked tirelessly to protect and preserve the unique character of Chester County and adjacent communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Natural Lands Trust has provided invaluable technical support, advice and assitance to the Green Initiative. NLT has also preserved some of the most unique and environmentally important places surrounding our two campuses.