Beaver Brook erects yurt classroom

HOLLIS – As a part of its mission to “encourage conservation of natural resources through education and land stewardship,” Beaver Brook Association welcomes more than 10,000 guests per year to their 2,100-plus acres. More than half of these visitors are schoolchildren learning about the environment, Native American History, winter ecology and green living.

Lately, demand for these educational programs has increased, creating the need for more classroom space.

The task of finding a new classroom space and the funds to renovate it fell to Christina Pocklington, the assistant director of education at Beaver Brook.

Exploring the renovation of a number of existing structures on the property, it became quickly clear to her that the time, expense and resource investment made most of these options implausible.

As Pocklington and Celeste Barr, director of education and community affairs, brainstormed on how to create a viable space in an efficient, low-impact and sustainable manner, the idea of a Yurt sprung to life.

When preliminary research supported this idea, the quest to build the new round classroom began.

With the generous support of a grant from Jane’s Trust, the Solar Yurt Classroom project got under way this fall.

You can see the yurt, awaiting its solar panels, in the field adjacent to Cow Lane.

For many of the students who visit Beaver Brook each year from urban schools this will be their first exposure to sustainable energy.

“We want to encourage and educate people about environmentally sound living,” Pocklington said.

Designed to function in a cold Northern climate, by White Mountain Yurts, its reflective interior and shape allow the yurt to hover around 50 degrees on winter nights with nothing but the pilot light in the propane furnace. The photovoltaic array and battery cells will provide reliable electric power to the yurt year-round without dependence on external sources.

With construction well under way, Beaver Brook staff and volunteers have now dedicated themselves to the task of finding tables and chairs to convert the yurt into a classroom so they can start hosting students in it as soon as it is done.

Completed, this yurt will be a safe warm space for students of all ages to learn about the environment immersed in nature’s glory and totally off grid.

If you would like to donate tables, chairs or time to help create a natural classroom play space or money to the Classroom Yurt Project, contact Christina Pocklington at 603-465-7787.