Outdoor Programs

University School's Hunting Valley campus is comprised of more than 220 acres of treasured land on the western slope of the Chagrin River Valley. Opportunities for students interested in the natural sciences and ecology abound in this outdoor classroom. Students of all ages regularly use the campus for projects, field studies in science, and other outdoor activities. A number of US graduates have chosen careers in conservation and natural resource management as a result of their experiences at US.
 
The school offers a variety of fascinating programs:
  • Upper School boys study the behavior of local deer and coyote populations on campus using GPS and other technologies to track their movements and feeding patterns.
  • A maple sugaring operation, which has been in existence since 1971, gives students the experience of tapping the maple trees, collecting sap, and boiling it into maple syrup in the school's sugarhouse.
  • Boys study and cultivate endangered brook trout in the school's trout hatchery.
  • Boys help to build replicas of authentic birch bark canoes with many of the same materials, construction methods, and tools used by the Algonquin Indians in the late 1800s.
  • The Hunting Valley campus boasts an astronomical observatory that rivals that of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Students participating in US's outdoor programs also work on a variety of projects with local and national organizations, such as the Cleveland Metroparks, the Chagrin River Watershed Institute, The Trout Club of the Museum of National History, and the National Parks.

Our Current Programs

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Maple Sugaring

    A maple sugaring operation, which has been in existence since 1971, gives students the experience of tapping the maple trees, collecting sap, and boiling it into maple syrup in the school's sugarhouse. In the winter, over 6,000 feet of tubing is suspended throughout the maple bush to gather sap, which is taken to the sugarhouse where it is boiled down in a wood-fueled evaporator and turned into maple syrup. Many students in grades three through six participate in an after school maple sugaring club.
  • Birch Bark Canoes

    US boys help build replicas of authentic birch bark canoes that were used by Native Americans and fur traders in the late 1800s. Led by Terry Harmon, the school's legendary outdoor education teacher, students faithfully use many of the same materials, construction methods, and tools used by the Algonkin Indians and others living in Ontario and the northeast United States to build these majestic canoes.
     
    The curriculum lends itself beautifully to this project, which supports studies of Native Americans, the Great Lakes, and the French exploration of North America. The best part of the experience for the boys, however, is the opportunity to go for a ride on the canoe they helped to build on the school's own Lake Kilroy at the Hunting Valley campus.
  • Astronomical Observatory

    University School is proud to have an astronomical observatory that rivals that of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Located at the Hunting Valley campus, the Pollock Observatory is used for the study of astronomy and telescoping and provides opportunities for independent research and classroom applications for students at both campuses. It enables students to observe and research the stars and planets. The observatory is equipped with a 14-inch telescope weighing over 250 pounds, lenses and filters, an imaging camera with a color wheel, and a laptop computer.
     
    Four University School seniors built the observatory in 2004 through the Strnad Fellowship Program, which enables students to undertake unique independent projects. The observatory's research capabilities were put to the test soon afterwards. The students photographed craters on the Moon's surface and captured live views of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. They also studied the mass of the planet Jupiter by analyzing the orbit of its natural satellite, Io.
     
  • Trout Hatchery

    Fall is the season of aquaculture at the Hunting Valley campus. Boys study and cultivate endangered brook trout. Fertile trout from our lake and other areas are brought to the University School hatchery in late October, where they are held in pools until ripe for yielding eggs and sperm. Eggs are evacuated and fertilized, then placed on screens held in running water throughout the winter. 
     
    Winter is a time of husbanding incubating eggs. The development of trout embryos is a topic taught throughout the winter and spring in biology classes. In May, the trout fry are released in a suitable habitat on campus.
     
    Historically, University School has worked with the metro parks from Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties in their efforts to restore native brook trout in local streams. Native brook trout fry from our hatchery once served to stock those streams after habitats were restored. The school continues to provide consulting services to the parks given our significant experience in aquaculture and stream studies.
     
  • Coyote Research

    University School has partnered with the Cleveland Metroparks and Ohio State University to conduct research on coyotes in Northeast Ohio. Biology teacher Sara Laux was present for the collaring of a sub-adult male weighing 33lbs, which was captured at North Chagrin Reservation. The coyote was taken to the zoo, fitted with GPS collar and then released back to North Chagrin.  The same team involved with this coyote are working at US to trap and collar a coyote on campus.  They have yet to successfully trap a coyote on campus but are still trying. The trapper gave a demonstration to science students about how the traps are being set on the Hunting Valley campus. Additionally, the students are able to study the coyotes through infrared motion activated cameras that are scattered throughout the woods. 

Living off the Land

 

Outdoor Programs Faculty

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Terrence Harmon

    Mr. Terrence Harmon 

    216-831-2200 x7377
  • Photo of Sara Laux

    Dr. Sara Laux 

    216-831-2200 x7420

Maple Sugar Season

Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
GRADES Junior K-8
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
GRADES 9-12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves 870 boys in Junior Kindergarten to grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved.