Bringing Acadia to Students Through the Outdoor Classroom

An outdoor classroom is an innovative outdoor educational space that brings learning to life by bringing the learning outside. It becomes a gathering place for teachers and students and provides an opportunity to integrate nature into the school grounds.

Outdoor Classroom grants are available for early learning centers and pre-K through 12th grade public schools in Maine to build an outdoor classroom at their site. Funding is provided through Friends of Acadia to support more youth engagement with Acadia National Park.

Outdoor classrooms must be hosted on school grounds and can be used in every season. While all subjects and curricula can be presented in an outdoor classroom, schools must provide a curriculum link to Acadia National Park to receive grant funding through this program.

Outdoor learning became essential in 2020-21 as educators struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Friends of Acadia was able to increase support and provide outdoor classroom grants to six public schools surrounding Acadia, enabling them to provide safe outdoor spaces for students to connect with the park and associated ecosystems.



To get started, you need a great plan and plenty of school commitment. Elements of an outdoor classroom can include:

  • Natural features (trees, fields, wetlands)
  • Greenhouses
  • Trails
  • Outdoor chalkboard and seating
  • Gardens (vegetable, butterfly)
  • Fitness and balance elements
  • Creative space
  • Study space

Outdoor Classroom Grant Funding

To apply for Outdoor Classroom grants, school should submit a complete application including, letter of administrative support, objectives and timeline, fund request, map of design plan, estimated number of participants, and contact information. Learn more and download the application form here. The total available per school over a five-year period for Outdoor Classroom grants is $20,000. $10,000 for grant implementation , $5,000 for staff training: $1,000 per school year , $5,000 for optional field trips to Acadia and/or ranger school visits: $1,000 per school year