Sunday, June 17, 2018

A National Park in Your Backyard: Exploring the Local Habitat

PROTECTED: A Wild & Scenic River Portrait from Freshwaters Illustrated on Vimeo.

This weekend is Riverfest, days to celebrate local rivers in a number of ways. Rivers are on my mind since next week is Rivers/Wetlands Week for our fifth graders--it's a great way to end the school year.

When I met with National Wild and Scenic Rivers Ranger, Sarah Bursky, in April to discuss our fifth grade naturalist studies she said that having our school situated near the Sudbury River is like having a National Park in your backyard. I really love the way she said that and knew that her words would resonate with children.

The reason for my meeting with Sarah was that our school had received a grant from SuAsCo to forward river study and stewardship. As a child, I spent a lot of time outdoors with my family, and that's why I have always known what a strong and positive influence nature has on children's understanding of the world around them. That's also why I am committed to developing students' understanding of their environment by embedding expected standards study into real-life exploration, research, and stewardship.

Our team has used the grant to foster naturalist study, head-starting wood frogs, field exploration, and stewardship events. The goal is to give students a chance to experience the beautiful natural environment that's all around them, teach them about that environment, and inspire them to care for that environment too.

Throughout their years in the school system, this study will continue in a number of ways including canoe trips on the Sudbury, bike riding to Walden Pond, and countless hikes, experiments, research, reading, and related presentations.

In the week ahead, we'll invest in this study. As the study moves forward I'll watch students carefully to see their reactions, hear their words, and notice what's having an impact and what more we can do. I am excited about this summer camp type of week we've planned for the final week in the school year--a week that I hope will inspire more outdoor exploration, reading, research, and fun during the summer months for all of us.