By Stiles Rader and Sam Iatarola, FBRA Heads of Community Engagement
Service learning is an integral part of our mission at French Broad River Academy. We intentionally build opportunities into our weekly field lessons to fulfill our mission of building character and integrity for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership. We independently clean waterways within the French Broad River watershed with regular student on-water cleanups and we also steward popular paddling put-ins and take-outs. We have amazing partners who help us deliver our service mission within our community.
Marshall Native Gardens
Marshall Native Gardens: Students journey north to Madison County to learn about the importance of native plants and their role in environmental sustainability. Students learn about the beauty and natural heritage in regional flora while mulching, planting, and tending to the garden. According to Ed McNally, Marshall Native Gardens Coordinator and Co-President, “Every spring and fall over the past 6 years, each grade of the FBRA classes have frequently come to Marshall Native Gardens to do service and educational garden tours. This partnership has provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn about native plants and sustainable gardening in a hands-on way. It has also been a great help to Marshall Native Gardens volunteers by helping maintain and develop these public native gardens. Thank you FBRA!”
Carolina Climbers Coalition
Carolina Climbers Coalition: On field lessons and overnight trips, we have the opportunity to enjoy WNC’s world renowned rock climbing destinations; it only makes sense that we give back to these places. Carolina Climber’s Coalition’s mission: Protect, preserve, and expand climbing opportunities in the Carolinas. Students support this mission through building and maintaining trails to climb sites and even develop landing pads for newly developed crags.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy operates a farm located 13 minutes from campus. Students have the opportunity to learn about the benefits of land and water conservation efforts– like SAHC’s initiative to restore a riparian buffer zone on the farm ultimately to improve the French Broad’s water quality. Students get hands on with protecting our communities mountains and forests via invasive plant removal in support of the farm’s short leaf pine restoration initiative.
Manna Food Bank
Manna Food Bank: Manna FoodBank is a private not-for-profit service organization working to end food insecurity in the 16 counties of Western North Carolina, including the Qualla Boundary. MANNA links the food industry to over 200 partner pantries and other human service organizations to get food to thousands of families’ tables. Our students help with sorting and packing food donations, packing housewares and hygiene products, culling and bagging produce, or packing MANNA Packs.
Town of Woodfin
Town of Woodfin: With the new development of Silverline Park and the Woodfin Wave “Taylor’s Wave” Project, FBRA has entered a new relationship with the Town of Woodfin. We have partnered with the town to support invasive species removal and trash clean up at the local parks. When the new whitewater wave is complete, French Broad River Academy will be the official stewards of the Woodfin Wave “Taylor’s Wave”, which is conveniently located in between our two campuses. Students take ownership of the public parks and waterways right in their backyard. Dave Clarke, Outdoor Programs Director and Spanish teacher at the Boys Program, is an active volunteer member of the Town of Woodfin Parks and Greenway Advisory Board and the Wave Task Force.