Prince George 2nd Graders Experience Local Ecology During J.E.J. Moore Nature Trail Field Trip

October 21, 2022
Prince George County second graders got the opportunity to become junior ecologists as they embarked on a unique field trip aimed at giving students a greater understanding of ecosystems right in their own backyard.
On Thursday, October 20, approximately two dozen county second graders from the district's five elementary schools traveled to J.E.J. Moore Middle School for a morning of hands-on learning along the nature trail located behind the school and the campus' sports complex. 


Students listen to instructions at the outdoor classroom area.PGCPS Gifted Resource Teacher Mrs. Mary Sebera prepares students for their trip through the J.E.J. Moore Middle School nature trail at the special outdoor classroom area Thursday. (PGCPS Photo)

The students selected were part of P.A.C.E., shorthand for the Program of Advanced and Creative Experiences. This year, elementary gifted resource teachers Mrs. Mary Sebera and Mr. Peter Herzing are helping students explore various types of systems, with first and second-grade students currently studying trees as both a system and as part of a greater ecosystem.


After disembarking their buses at Moore Middle School, the scientists-in-training gathered in the auxiliary gymnasium to participate in animal pose yoga. Led by J.E.J. Moore Middle School physical education teacher Mr. Michael Cancino, the students learned about various animals native to Virginia and got set for their trek out to the nature trail. Once finished, the elementary students were paired with sixth-grade Moore Middle School P.A.C.E. students, who served as guides for the young students. The identified gifted students helped answer the second graders' questions as they journaled about their findings along the nearly half-mile trail.

In the outdoor classroom, gifted resource teachers Mrs. Sebera, Mrs. Stephanie Toney, and Mrs. Tonya Humphrey geared the second graders up with binoculars, journals, crayons, and other tools to help them as they made observations along the trail. As the sun shined through the mix of green and autumn-themed leaves among a cool breeze, groups were able to identify trees, plant life, and even the occasional insect, with each discovery sparking curiosity among the entire group, students and teachers alike.

Before departing mid-day, the elementary students became tree stewards, adopting a tree along the trail. They sketched their tree in their journals and will return three more times throughout the school year to observe their tree and take care of it if needed.

Another teacher explains ecology concepts while along the trail with students

PGCPS Gifted Resource Teacher Mrs. Tonya Humphrey discusses the ecology of the J.E.J. Moore Middle School nature trail during Thursday’s special trip. (PGCPS Photo)

More photos from this special event can be viewed on the division’s website at or on the district's Flickr page.


The outdoor classroom and nature trail are regularly maintained thanks to the volunteerism of local Boy Scout Troop #902, who clear brush and perform other tasks that help make the trail a valuable resource to students and the community.