Opinion: Let’s Reopen W. Alton Jones!

by | Jun 25, 2022

Hello East Greenwich neighbors. My name is Anthony Burnett-Testa and I am an East Greenwich resident and I have taught at Cole Middle School since 1999. My first job out of college was at the University of Rhode Island’s W. Alton Jones campus as a field teacher naturalist. Many of you may have been a camper there or possibly attended a conference at the Whispering Pines Conference Center.  

The W. Alton Jones campus has educated school groups for over 55 years but it closed two years ago due to Covid. It was understandable that it closed, but with Covid concerns fading, it should have opened up this summer. My concern is that it may remain closed indefinitely. With mental health issues and climate change at the forefront of everyone’s minds, now is not the time to permanently close this invaluable resource. 

The last time I took a group of students to W. Alton Jones, they learned about communication and group building strategies which we built upon during the rest of the school year.  I have also taken groups of students to other facilities that offer similar programs and I was dumbfounded at the difference in quality between W. Alton Jones and these other organizations. W. Alton Jones was far superior.

Another former teacher at W. Alton Jones started an online petition to reopen the facility. I hope you will consider signing the petition (HERE) or emailing the new president of URI, Dr. Marc Parlange (HERE), to express your concerns about how the W. Alton Jones campus has remained closed, with no plans for a reopening. 

Thank you for your time.

Anthony Burnett-Testa teaches science at Cole Middle School

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  1. Emily Markey

    I could not agree more! My siblings and I all stayed at Alton Jones as part of an annual seventh grade field trip. I loved the experience so much that I eventually became a field teacher at Alton to pass on the magic. I cherish those memories and was devastated to hear of the closure. This is a haven in the trees of West Greenwich that must be reopened for future generations to enjoy

  2. Anthony Burnett-Testa

    Thank you Emily. W Alton Jones is definitely a magical place and it’s needed much more now than ever. Hopefully Dr Parlange will visit and reopen it to school groups again

    • Evelyn Medina

      Please reopen
      This is a magical place for the kids to spend their summer with nature

  3. Ray Riccio

    W. Alton Jones a fishing mate of “Ike,” president and, before that, the Supreme Allied Commander of European Forces during WWII.
    Legend has it the 34th President did fish the waters of Alton Jones. My youngest child with his friend Ryan achieved Eagle Scout with their project at Alton Jones. There is a path, a rite of passage every youngster must accomplish to obtain adulthood or social acceptance. Seems like Anthony Testa makes it perfectly clear. If Alton Jones is a guide towards that goal as it appears then who dare make the future a distant passage for the youth of tomorrow. Another concern in Anthony’s article?
    Thank you for your post Anthony Testa.


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