Over the course of the last two weeks I had the opportunity to participate in field trips with 3rd and 8th graders at PLC’s Knight Brown Nature Preserve. The preserve is a beautiful 190-acre piece of property that has three wonderful hiking trails. Each trail had stations set up and the kids hiked from one station to the next. They had the opportunity to learn about water quality, ecosystems, and the different species they encountered on their hike. I had the chance to refresh my memory and also learn a few new things. The best part was watching young children and pre-teens react the same way to the interesting things they found in the woods. They were so full of excitement!
While the main purpose was education, I think they enjoyed having the opportunity to cut loose a little bit and explore. The older kids explored around and in the creek and were thrilled to find deer and raccoon tracks, salamanders, tadpoles, and slugs. No rock was left unturned. The 3rd graders were very excited about leaf rubbing and checking out the tiny species they found at the water quality station. The feedback from the students about their experience was fantastic. For educators who are looking for a fun way to engage kids in science, this is one great way to do it. Not only will everyone have a blast, but I think they will retain what they learn because of the experience.
It was interesting being involved with both age groups and seeing their reactions to being in the woods and learning about nature. I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of teachers and the general consensus is that children do not get out and explore enough. There were some students who had never even been in the woods or gone on a nature hike. With all of the structure children are required to have, along with busy schedules and electronics, it can be difficult to get out and just romp around in the woods for an afternoon. And with so much development happening around us, natural areas to run and play in are being lost. Some people simply do not have easy access to or know about natural areas where they can hang out. This is why PLC’s mission of preservation is so important and each piece of property that the organization is able to protect means that we have another safe and beautiful place to explore. This nature preserve offers people of all ages the opportunity to explore, exercise, and have fun. You don’t have to be an expert hiker by any means to hike these trails. I am certainly far from any form of expert level, but I still had a wonderful time hanging out with the kids, watching their excitement, and getting a little bit of exercise. I highly recommend taking a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and spending time at the Knight Brown Nature Preserve.