AOEA Outdoor Lab

About the Outdoor Lab and AOEA

The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory’s purpose is to provide a facility and support for a school program designed to give Arlington students an opportunity to learn science, outdoor skills, arts, and humanities in a natural setting. Annually, the Lab provides hands-on outdoor and environmental education to more than 9,000 students from elementary grades through high school. The Outdoor Lab is owned and operated by the nonprofit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA).

The Outdoor Lab

A family explores the Outdoor Lab during the 2013 Fall Open House
A family explores the Outdoor Lab during the 2013 Fall Open House

The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory is a 225-acre facility in Fauquier County that provides a natural classroom for Arlington’s students. It has a spring-fed stream, a pond, nature hiking trails, plant, and animal identification areas. Camping sites, a classroom, kitchen, and dining facilities are used daily during the school year. An observatory includes a 10 inch reflecting telescope for astronomy studies. Four classes per week visit the Outdoor Lab, one of which has an overnight, and there are three week-long summer camps. In 2013, the Lab hosted two weekend open houses for Arlington children and their families.

I loved everything at the Lab. My favorite things were the creek study, pond study, and night hike.

The Outdoor Lab has made a major and positive impact on the welfare of thousands of school children. In this natural classroom, urban youth — often for the first time — can run in a meadow, climb a mountain, hike beside a stream or fish in a pond. Visiting the Outdoor Lab allows children to see the fun and value of education and to learn, not only about the environment and the outdoors, but also that education is exciting. In addition, the Outdoor Lab has provided several opportunities for Boy Scouts to complete their Eagle projects.

Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA)

Children roasting marshmallows with the AOEA's slamander mascot
Children roasting marshmallows with the AOEA’s slamander mascot

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA), was formed in 1967 to own and operate the Outdoor Lab. The AOEA is responsible for maintaining the facilities, and provides camperships to needy students to allow participation by those who otherwise could not afford the fees. Costs associated with educational programs are funded by Arlington County Public Schools. The AOEA is a public charity, and participates in the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign.