West Marion Elementary School
McDowell County Schools
Mrs. Renata Crawley has been a teacher at West Marion Elementary School located in McDowell County for the past 28 years. Renata grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where a love of nature was instilled in her at a young age. Hours were spent hiking mountain trails and fishing with her father on Lake James. Renata has always believed that children become most excited when time is spent outdoors.
For the past ten years, Renata has been the director of after school science clubs, Project Wild Thing, an outdoor program that focuses on students learning inquiry based science on nature trails, butterfly gardens, fields, and streams. Renata developed the program, Nurture Your Nature, to inspire teachers to implement inquiry based science activities in an outdoor setting. This program creates outdoor classrooms at all elementary schools in McDowell County, and includes activities centered on the monarch butterfly, composting, aquatic insects, birds, trees, and nature trails. Students take on the role of field scientists by observing nature, exploring, researching, and becoming active citizens within their community.