Toyota West Virginia's Outdoor Learning Program


Supporting community initiatives helps to scale up conservation efforts. In the communities where we live and work, we focus our efforts on building knowledge and fostering a love of nature in children through school programs. Allowing youngsters to experience wildlife and learn about biodiversity at an early age helps them understand the value of biodiversity and the importance of protecting it.


Team members at Toyota’s West Virginia engine plant installed an outdoor learning center on site, where the table and some of the concrete seats were made to look like logs and stones to make the space fit seamlessly in its natural setting. It’s the perfect spot to bring students from Hometown Elementary and Winfield High School and teach them about species native to Putnam County, the role of pollinators and the importance of biodiversity. These education events support the plant’s WHC® Conservation Certification.


But when the COVID-19 pandemic led to in-person schooling being shut down, team members at Toyota West Virginia realized they could not utilize the outdoor classroom for outreach. Instead, they expanded their outdoor learning program to include a larger habitat for pollinators.  


Team members planted nine acres of pollinator host species as well as 18 new tree species throughout the area. In addition to these new plants, employees also added 15 new bird houses, constructed two new walking trails, built an apiary to support local bees and added new interpretive signage to the site. They also worked with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to host a pollinator workshop, where private landowners learned how to build their own pollinator habitats. 


Once restrictions due to COVID-19 were lifted and visitors could once again frequent the site, not only could they use the outdoor classroom again, but team members also found that their efforts left them with a more robust program. WHC recognized these efforts by awarding Toyota West Virginia the 2022 Ibis Award, which recognizes a WHC-certified program that has demonstrated resiliency of spirit and advancement of conservation despite unforeseen or unique challenges.