The idea for the outdoor classroom project, where students, parents and teachers interact with nature to learn about the world around them, was first proposed in 2000, when the Deer Creek School Board accepted responsibility for maintaining a drainage ditch. The ditch, on the south side of the school, was turned into a natural classroom. School officials have planted vegetable and flower gardens and have done various hands-on programs that aim to teach students to be good stewards of the environment. Straughn said having the outdoor classroom has helped her students learn. "When you learn only from a book, it is not as exciting,” she said. "It is very important to do hands-on learning.” Deer Creek School Board President Jim Benson said the board remains committed to promoting and teaching students about the environment. All four elementary schools have land set aside for an outdoor classroom.