Stories from the Field

Teacher Spotlight: Jason Brown

Combined Shape Copy Created with Sketch.
Jason Brown and NatureBridge Educator Raye pose in front of a cabin.

In the 50 years that NatureBridge has been running programs in our National Park campuses we’ve seen tons of students return year after year, and a few have even come back to work as educators. There is something magical about the community that is formed on the trail and the impact a program can have, whether short or long term. This past Spring our Prince William Forest campus reopened after a two year hiatus. In addition to the joy of having students back, we had the honor of welcoming Mr. Jason Brown, a teacher who holds the title of having attended more NatureBridge programs in Price William than any other teacher in our 50 year history.

Jason is a middle school teacher at Graham Park Middle School. He is also the head boy’s basketball coach, head boy’s and girl’s track coach, a Math and Science Specialty Program coordinator and Instructional Technology coach. It’s safe to say that not only is Jason deeply invested in supporting the success of his students, he’s staying busy doing just that! In addition to these accolades, Jason has also been on program at our Prince William campus nine out of the eleven years that the campus has been open - only missing two because of pandemic closure. 

We checked in with Jason to learn about his experience with NatureBridge over the years, the way nature has impacted his own life, and what keeps him and his students coming back year after year. 

Tell us about your history with NatureBridge

Jason: Back in 2011, I went to the first NatureBridge informational meeting that was hosted for teachers about a year before the campus opened. At the time I was the Science Department Chair for our school and I proposed having our students attend the first NatureBridge program to my colleague, Mrs. Schubert. We took our first group out in the Spring of 2012. Mrs. Schubert did an excellent job coordinating the program here at Graham Park for the first eight years and I've been part of the team supporting coordination and chaperoning kids every year since. I have gone to the NatureBridge program at Prince William Forest Park a total of nine times and this Spring was the first time I lead program coordination. I am proud to say that I have been to NatureBridge's Prince William Forest program more than any other person in the country!  
What differences do you notice when kids are able to experience science education in an outdoor, hands-on setting? 

Jason: The biggest difference that the kids can experience is just the hands-on aspect of actually doing science research in the field. The students in our school have lots of hands-on science experiences but not after a long hike or experiencing the outdoors and the elements. The program opens up their eyes to see what a scientist in the field does and how science can be so much more engaging than sitting in a class getting a lecture.

Recently you were able to bring a group of students to our Prince William Forest Park campus after nearly two years of remote learning. What was that experience like for you and your students?

Jason: The students loved the experience and gained a lot from it. Everyday everyone seemed excited and energetic so I could tell they were having an enjoyable time. I was glad to get back to the park, walk the trails, and experience the outdoors. NatureBridge gives my, and so many other students the opportunity to experience the outdoors and science in a practical setting - majority of whom normally would not get the experience without scholarship support. This program could be the spark that ignites a student’s interest in exploring their love for nature and gain or reinforce their love of science. It's a very exciting thing to be able to witness how the leadership and skills building experiences on a NatureBridge program impact the big picture for these kids. The opportunity is truly invaluable to all these students as they move forward in life. 

What has been your favorite part of working with NatureBridge? 

Jason: I love the outdoors and I really enjoy nature in general. I grew up on two farms as a kid, so I spent a lot of time outside. The outdoors will always be a part of me and it's so special to be able to share that with my students. Over the years my favorite parts of NatureBridge have been seeing the students enjoy being out in nature, learning about themselves, students working together as a team and learning science along the way. 

Check out these other