By Kris Goracke


The Glacial Hills Charter School in Starbuck has been awarded $20,000 from the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) grant. This grant, a program dedicated to supporting outdoor environmental, ecological, and natural resource-based education and recreation programs for youth, will advance the school’s outdoor education initiatives. Funded by the Minnesota Legislature in 2019, with continued support in 2021 and 2023, the grant aims to bridge the gap between students and nature, emphasizing the importance of outdoor experiences for the future stewardship of Minnesota’s natural resources.

The grant will assist Glacial Hills in its commitment to outdoor education. It emphasizes the importance of outdoor play for children’s development and well-being. By providing access to outdoor experiences and equipment, the school aims to establish a love for nature in young people and the community.

The school’s plans to utilize the grant funds extend beyond the classroom. They aim to enrich the entire community’s outdoor experiences. Glacial Hills Director Jodee Lund said. 

“In our grant application, we emphasized the community-wide benefits of the funds, particularly in the area of winter sports equipment.” 

The equipment, including cross-country skis, ice skates, sleds, snowshoes, ice fishing rods, snow blocker makers, and geocaching supplies, will be housed in a shed on the school grounds. The goal is to have the equipment available for students and the community by next winter, free of charge, fostering a sense of shared outdoor adventure and exploration.

Additionally, Glacial Hills will use the grant money for curriculum development and training. “We are deeply committed to enhancing our curriculum and embedding the Minnesota Standards with our environmental education, sustainability, and fostering a love for nature among our students,” noted Lund.

Currently, the school is developing a 6-acre outdoor learning area that will include trails, observation points, and an outdoor classroom.

Something new this year is a Nature Maker Summer Camp from July 23 to 25. This three-day camp, open to all incoming second through sixth graders, allows children to explore the outdoors and learn about nature. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to connect with nature and each other. Registration information can be found on the school’s website,,” said Lund.

A maker camp is a unique learning experience driven by curiosity, exploration, problem-solving, and perseverance. These characteristics will be embedded into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), environmental education, and project-based learning curriculum. “In this three-day camp, students will engage in hands-on activities, collaborate on projects, and learn about nature through interactive experiences. This year’s project will focus on developing and building an observation station and bridges for the Eagle’s Nest, contributing to enhancing our outdoor learning center,” explained Lund.