Foundation Grant will help Bernheim Develop an Outdoor Classroom

A new education and research site in the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest will be “an exemplary ecological restoration project,” said Kelsey Eilers Lynn, Bernheim Grants Manager.

The site will be developed inside the arboretum on Guerilla Creek with the help of a $15,000 Louisville Water Foundation grant, which aligns with the Foundation’s mission of improving “the health and well-being of both the local communities we serve and around the globe through water assistance and education.”

Berbheim foundation grant

“The site of the Guerilla Creek outdoor classroom will not only restore habitat for a diverse number of animal and plant species,” Lynn said, “but it will also serve as a dynamic nature‐based education tool and a one‐of‐a‐kind visitor experience. Visitors can learn at their own pace, but it will also serve as a demonstration site for guided field trips so students of all ages can experience the benefits of a creek restoration site first‐hand.”

Visitors will learn about protecting surface and groundwater and about the role we all can play in being good stewards of our water resources. The addition of an observation platform as well as a time‐lapse photography site will encourage observation of the same area over time.

Bernheim also is committed to restoring habitat for beavers at the site, which improves water quality and creates wildlife viewing opportunities in nearby Lake Nevin. Lynn said beaver wetlands are beneficial for a host of plants and wildlife, including waterfowl, otters, and amphibians.

“This restoration will serve as an example of how the negative impacts of human development can be reversed and demonstrate the benefits of restoring a natural habitat,” Lynn said. “The message of the Guerilla Creek Outdoor Classroom and Education Project is that nature is the best designer and that best practice is to work with nature instead of against it.”

The outdoor classroom also is “part of a larger educational strategy to inspire visitors of all ages to think critically about the importance of clean water,” she added.

The grant is the second one the Foundation has awarded to Bernheim. The first, in 2022, helped the organization complete a spring restoration that created a new aquatic habitat, bringing not only elementary, high school, college, and workshop field trips but also beavers, birds, frogs, and turtles. In addition, several wetland plants returned to the spring area spontaneously.