Today at GA, students enjoy the bounty of The Preserve, an on-campus outdoor laboratory that presents daily opportunities for learning without the need for a field trip!
- First imagined as part of the Campus Master Plan in 2008 and then made possible by the Building on Tradition campaign in 2011, the land on the north side of the Wissahickon Creek that was within the floodplain was returned to nature and transformed into The Preserve.
- The Preserve features rain gardens, outdoor classroom spaces, an arboretum, and a wet meadow.
- Preserve Manager Sarah Kesten was an integral part of the Preserve becoming a certified Audubon Society Bird Habitat in which over 50 species of birds are commonly observed.
- The Preserve is a curricular asset, providing a natural landscape in which students can study local biodiversity and collect limitless data for specialized research projects and experiments. It is the centerpiece of our Nature Program, an integrated curriculum that promotes sustainable practices.
- The Preserve is a functional, award-winning engineering masterpiece designed to ecologically manage water runoff from the entire athletic side of campus.
- Through a complex system of retention basins and incremental flow staging, all collected water is naturally filtered of pesticides and other contaminants before being returned to the Wissahickon.
The Berton E. Korman Family Wet Meadow
A wet meadow is a type of wetland featuring trees, grasses, and flowering plants that thrive in soil that is saturated for most of the growing season. This is a key feature of The Preserve, and provides a sustainable habitat for numerous species of birds, amphibians, insects, and other animals. Site amenities such as trails, bridges, boardwalks, and bird blinds provide ample opportunity to observe and enjoy this diverse ecosystem.
Our wet meadow was expertly engineered by a group that included the Wissahickon Watershed Valley Association, Morris Arboretum, Temple University Ambler, The Rock 'n Renew Foundation, and the Heritage Conservancy. Whitemarsh Township fully endorsed this plan, seeing The Preserve as a community resource and a highly responsible act of citizenship. This assessment was shared by the Berton E. Korman Family, who helped make the wet meadow possible.
The Preserve features two outdoor classrooms, made possible by contributions from the Cara and Jeffrey Jones Family, parents of Madeline '15 and Olivia '21, and the Binswanger Family, in memory of Louise. These lovely circular settings of benches, stones, flowers and trees serve as peaceful spots for literary discussions, art projects, or toasting marshmallows on Preserve Day!
The Class of 1990 Dock Project
To enhance The Preserve while specially commemorating their 25th Reunion, the Class of 1990 came together to fund the installation of a Boardwalk and Dock in one of the Preserve's retention basins. The dock is used by students from PreK through 12th grade, providing a platform from which they can study local biodiversity, collect data for specialized research projects, and simply enjoy the natural features of our proud campus. With this gift, the Class of 1990 recognized the careers of Mrs. Rebecca Kaufmann Pizzino 1760 and Mr. Phil Rittenhouse 1760 and honored their direct influence on the Nature Program.