It’s Only Natural: Local Environmental Education
Have you ever thought about being an environmental educator? One of the best in the area makes a case here. And if you’re interested,
the Sheldrake Environmental Center starts a new 12-session course in ecology and teaching techniques this month. To inquire call 834-1443.– editrix
To the Editor:
In this Internet age dominated by electronics, we all need more opportunities to engage with the natural world. Increasingly, studies show that our well-being – physical and emotional – is improved by spending time in “green” spaces. Depression, ADHD, and high blood pressure have all been shown to decrease when people spend time outdoors.
This fall hundreds of schoolchildren in our community will have the opportunity to leave the classroom and take to the woods to discover the wonders of nature in their backyards. As they learn about the ecology of the forest and the seasons, they will also reap the benefits of breathing fresh air, listening to bird calls, touching the soil, and feeling the wind in their faces.
Accompanying them on this psychically wondrous journey are a handful of volunteer environmental educators who are dedicated to sharing nature with children. They come from a variety of backgrounds – lawyers, teachers, artists, business executives – but all share a love of being outdoors and learning from the natural world.
For 10 years I have led children on our local trails, and I never get tired of it. What could be better than to see the look of wonder on a child’s face as she is invited to have a daddy-long-legs crawl up her arm! Or to turn over a log to find earthworms, centipedes and (if we’re lucky) a salamander! Or to cup our ears to listen for the red-bellied woodpecker’s screeching call…
I don’t need the studies to tell me the physical and psychic benefits of spending time in green spaces – I can feel it myself ever time I head out on the trail with a dozen kindergartners. I know I’m providing the children with those benefits, but here’s a little secret – I’m getting the same benefits myself!
This month Sheldrake Environmental Center begins its annual training program for Volunteer Environmental Educators. A nature-lover’s dream, taught by program director Mary Davis, the weekly course provides lessons in basic ecology and teaching techniques, including weekly walks on local trails and shorelines. Graduates of the 4-month program spend at least one morning a week leading school groups on those same trails. (For more info, contact Mary Davis at 834-1443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
If my experience is any indication, one morning a week won’t be enough for you. I look forward to seeing you on the trail!
Sheldrake Environmental Center
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