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Unique learning opportunities, field trips available at WVU Jackson’s Mill

Joe Obidzinski teaching students

As a new school year starts, so do new chances to go on personalized field trips at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill. Half-day, full-day and overnight field trips are offered to school and home school groups grades K-12 throughout the academic year. 

A variety of activities are offered in the content areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), outdoor education and history education. The programming is grade appropriate and instruction supports the West Virginia Department of Education Content Standards. 

“These field trips are beneficial to students because the content we offer aligns with the West Virginia school standards the students need to meet and teachers can make sure they are checking those boxes,” Emma Gardner, WVU Extension specialist and teaching assistant professor computer science technology and engineering, said. “During these field trips, students can participate in hands on experimental learning and experience something new.” 

A variety of STEAM-based activities can be offered on these field trips that incorporate problem solving skills, engineering design, physical science, computer science fundamentals and other growth mindset concepts.  

“One of my favorite engineering design activities I lead is having the students make a flying machine. They have specific supplies to use, but the rest is up to them, and they are free to build whatever they want,” Gardner said. “It is cool for me to see the growth mindset in action because they will test their machine and if it does not work, they will change something and test it again until it works. Not only are they using the engineering design process, but it is giving them a safe space to fail and try again until they succeed.” 

WVU Jackson’s Mill also provides the ideal setting for outdoor education experiences, such as nature walks, a low ropes course, a climbing wall, canoeing, field games, team building, outdoor survival skills, outdoor cooking and more. All these activities can be adjusted to fit every age group.  

“Outdoor education is important because it allows students to learn a variety of translatable skills, get more in touch with nature, learn about the environment and discover what they enjoy about the outdoors,” Jeff Schmoll, WVU Extension program coordinator, outdoor education and recreation, said. “I fully believe that the outdoors is for everyone, and it is just a matter of finding what aspects of the outdoors suits you.” 

Outdoor education and recreation adventures provide students with unique experiences to gain an appreciation for the outdoors and try something new that they do not have the opportunity to try in the classroom.  

Beyond that, WVU Jackson’s Mill is steeped in history, dating back to the mid-1800s. During field trips, students can participate in a variety of demonstrations that transport you back in time, including grist milling, weaving, spinning, basket making, candle dipping, blacksmithing, paper marbling, historic games, a tour of the historic area and other heritage arts activities.  

“We do history programming that is hands on, engaging and interactive, such as rope making and candle dipping that they would have used back in the day, and the students can take it home with them,” Joe Obidzinski, WVU Extension program coordinator, history and heritage, said. “All of the activities are geared toward the early development of this area and the students can think about who these people were and what they experienced. When they go back to the classroom, teachers can talk about what they saw and experienced.” 

In addition to field trips, a new event is coming to WVU Jackson’s Mill specifically for fourth graders. On Friday, October 20, 2023, fourth graders from around the state can participate in a history and heritage themed weekend. This is an opportunity for fourth graders from different schools to come together to engage and learn from a potter, a blacksmith, a weaving guild and other history and heritage related activities.  

This event is for fourth grade students since that is when they are introduced to West Virginia history in the classroom, explained Obidzinski.  

“Schools do not have access to the activities we can offer at Jackson’s Mill, like a climbing wall and a functioning gristmill, so it is neat that students can come here and learn in engaging ways outside of the classroom,” Gardner said. “During these field trips, we can offer content in all three areas – STEAM, outdoor education and history education – in one day, and that is unique to these field trips.” 

Teachers or groups interested in scheduling a field trip should have several dates in mind for scheduling purposes. To schedule a field trip or reserve a spot for the fourth-grade event, contact WVU Jackson’s Mill at 304-269-5100 or email  

If you want to learn more about WVU Extension, visit or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.   



CONTACT: Sophia Darmelio 

Marketing Strategist 

WVU Extension