Wolverine Environmental Education Center
The Wolverine Environmental Education (WEE) Center is a multidisciplinary, multifaceted outdoor classroom that emphasizes practical hands-on activities that connects students to food production and local agriculture.
Outdoor Garden Area
The garden area is the focal point of the center. Beginning as an empty lot, the garden is now a fenced in area that contains a fruit stand, pavilion, water access, and equipment storage shed. The garden has expanded to include fruit bushes and trees, chickens, raised beds, and in-ground planting. It is a vibrant area that students maintain and improve, which in turn produces a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and eggs for both the school and the community.
Sustainable Living and Agriculture
A Sustainable Living and Agriculture class is offered to juniors and seniors. Throughtout the class, students plan, plant, and maintain the garden. In addition to working in the garden, the class is introduced to many local agriculture careers and skills through a wide variety of guest speakers featured in the popular "Farmer Friday" part of class.
While class topics are guided by student interests, certain topics arise every year. Maple syrup is a major focus during winter months, as the WEE Center has a maple syrup evaporator that was made and donated by students in a neighboring district. Syrup is produced from trees on the school property and the school is treated to a Maple Day with homemade syrup and pancakes made by students, for students.
WEE Center Photo Gallery
Life Skills and Employment
Life skills are a side benefit of working in the center. Students may apply for summer jobs at the school garden where they interact with community members to sell eggs and produce, encourage people to meet the chickens and find fresh zucchini and herbs, or just to walk through and enjoy the area. These summer workers have the responsibility to run the entire center, turn in time sheets, and keep the area in good condition. Students are also invited to participate in public days such as the "WEE Center Community Days" that are offered.
All classes are encouraged and welcome to use the center. It has been used for spoken word poetry, drawing and clay classes, environmental classes, and English classes. Organizations such as the Farm Bureau and the Allegany County Ag Consortium have utilized the space for meetings. A fall festival featuring local vendors was held in 2021.
Follow the BRCS WEE Center Facebook page for updates on student projects, community opportunities, and more.
WEE Center Director
Degrees and Certifications:
Patricia Eshelman has taught at Bolivar-Richburg since 1999; in addition to overseeing the WEE Center, she teachers courses in Living Environment/Biology, Sustainable Living, and Agriculture. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Allegany Agricultural Society, oversees a 4H Club of about 20 members, and serves on the board of the Alfred Farmers Market.
In 2021 Eshelman received a National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award. That same year she was also named Teacher of the Year by New York Agriculture in the Classroom for the ways she prioritizes relevant and engaging cross-curricular learning experiences throughout her curriculum.