Lamprey River Elementary School Eco-Center, Raymond, New Hampshire

View of the Lamprey River from the backyard of the Lamprey River Elementary School, Raymond NH.

Students at the Lamprey River Elementary School now have a unique opportunity to not only learn about the natural environment in their classrooms, but through exploration and observation right in their backyard!

Wetland along the shore of the Lamprey River.

Behind the playground and P.E. field is just over 2,500 feet of trail that snakes along a section of the Lamprey River. The trail meanders through a number of ecosystems and features on the landscape including wetlands, uplands, a view of the drinking water plant, stormwater infrastructure, beautiful views of the river, and more!

Stormwater outfall from the parking lot of the Lamprey River Elementary School.

View of the Lamprey River.

Remnants of rock walls commonly found throughout New England

Over the years teachers at the Lamprey River Elementary School have developed activities to better connect students with the natural world including snow shoeing and recently tapping over 30 maple sugar trees. Principal Bryan Belanger is always looking for ways to increase use of the trail recognizing it’s potential as a learning opportunity for students who may not excel in a traditional classroom.

In early 2016 Ernest Cartier Creveling, Community Development Director for the Town of Raymond, along with the Conservation Commission received funding from the Lamprey River Advisory Committee to develop a series of interpretive signs to enhance educational opportunities along the trail. Ernest contacted PREP and Dr. David Burdick, wetland scientist at the University of New Hampshire to assist with the project.

After receiving unanimous support from the Raymond School Board in June, the project team worked over the summer with teachers from the Lamprey River Elementary School to develop signs that would enhance existing curriculum and incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) principals.

Map of the trail network.

Topics for the twelve signs include:

  • The Lamprey River’s connection to the Great Bay Estuary
  • River ecology
  • Common reptiles, turtles and snakes
  • Drinking water
  • Birds and habitat
  • The water cycle
  • Forested habitat
  • Geology
  • Soil
  • Reading a map
  • Land use change
  • Wetlands

Example of an interpretive sign along the trail. 

For a look at some of the signs click here. In addition to the interpretive signs along the trail, an old shed was removed and replaced with an outdoor classroom gazebo complete with tables for school activities and summer picnics.

Outdoor classroom gazebo at the entrance to the trail. Photo courtesy of LRAC.

On Friday, December 9 members of the Raymond Conservation Commission, School Board, municipal staff, Lamprey River Advisory Committee, and a handful of students from the Lamprey River Elementary School joined together in 12 degree weather for the official unveiling.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler providing opening remarks for the ceremony.

Students from Lamprey River Elementary School cutting the ribbon to officially open the trail.
The trail is also open to public visitors when school is not in session. School days the trail is open 5:00pm-8:00am and weekends Friday 5:00pm until Monday at 8:00am *(unless Monday is a holiday).

Individuals and organizations who made this project a reality include Abigail (Gronberg) Lyon, technical assistance program manager for PREP, Dr. David Burdick of the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory at UNH, Devin Batchelder of the Natural Resources and Environment department at UNH, and Raymond Eco-Center Advisory Committee members Greg Bemis, Lorrie O’Connor, Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Bryan Belanger, Michael Lambert, and Ernest Cartier Creveling, Raymond Community Development Director.

Water lilies floating on top of the Lamprey River.

Funding for the Lamprey River Elementary Eco-Trail was provided by the National Park Service under CFDA: 15.954—Lamprey Wild and Scenic River Assistance, Raymond Conservation Commission, Raymond Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Cosineau Forest Products, Inc., and the Raymond Area Rotary Club. Design provided by Bailey Donovan Exhibit of Manchester, NH.

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.