"Whoo, whoo,..who's here to learn?" Eco Island ecology Reserve
Eco Island Ecology Reserve was once a military base on Staley Road in Grand Island
GRAND ISLAND, NY - It is not every school district, which can boast of having its own nature preserve.
However, the Grand Island Central School District certainly can.
The Eco Island Ecology Reserve, an impressive menagerie devoted to the of the sciences of zoology, geology, botany and more has been formed over the past several decades, from what once a military base on Staley Road, donated to the school district by the army when it was abandoned in the early 1970s.
It has since then been transformed into a learning lab of native flora and fauna...with 49 outdoor acres including a pond and butterfly garden, and indoor classrooms, in a building which once served as an army barracks...with hands on displays, which rival those of most museums.
It is currently under the direction of Diane Tiede, a now retired Grand Island school teacher, whose enthusiasm for both learning, and for nature and ecology in particular are, to say the very least, infectious.
"I don't know of any other school district locally which has something like this for its students, and in that respect it is truly unique," she said.
The grounds and classrooms learning labs are for the exclusive use of Grand Island students, and over the years have been carefully crafted to match the curriculum needs of particular grade levels.
"It enriches the students' learning experience in the course of their science studies," Tiede said.
Over the course of his or her schooling in the Grand Island District, it is a safe guess that every student will have visited here, at least once a year.
Most everything within the eco reserve, and the work to create the interpretive displays for them, have been donated...in many cases by members of the Grand Island community, many of whom, once toured this place and learned from it as kids.
In doing so, they have helped enrich the experience for future generations.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave Mckinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2