PARKTON, Md. (WJZ) — Unable to hold their traditional fall programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center decided to provide students with a new learning experience.

“I get to have fun, go do all the activities,” kindergartener Anna Shevland said.

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“I like that there are kids to hang out with, there are fun activities and there are animals,” fifth-grader Tripp Witkowski said.

It’s a school enrichment program that’s a product of the pandemic.

“Schools were going virtual, and all these parents were like, ‘What the heck are we going to do?” Jackie LaMonica, Program Director of Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center, said.

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With the nonprofit unable to hold their traditional fall programs, they realized they could help by allowing kids to do their virtual learning at Genesee Valley, while their parents went to work.

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“Being able to come out here and interact with nature and interact with each other, it’s allowing them to develop and grow and nourish that learning and sponge mind that they have,” LaMonica said.

With the enrichment program set to end with the school year, they will continue their outdoor adventures with their summer camp.

Come fall, it’s time for team building and relearning in-person communication skills.

“We feel like we’re in the best position right now to help support all those corporate groups, these school groups, to reconnect and get back out here and relearn how to communicate person-to-person and solve these challenges where we’ve been doing a lot of that stuff online,” LaMonica said.

While it’s been a year of change, they’ve been flexible and have continued to find ways to serve their community by taking them to new heights.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher