By: Rachel Patton

If you ask someone what sparked their interest in the natural world, most often it is a role model or experience they had at a young age. In my case, it was a combination. My parents encouraged me to explore the creek and woods surrounding our home. My teachers took my classes to an outdoor classroom near our school. I have countless memories of experiences outside as a young child. Here at Bluegrass Greensource, we are excited for a new opportunity to inspire role models and connect our newest “Junior Nature Explorers” in Central Kentucky with a sense of wonder and curiosity about our natural world!

Thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we aim to increase awareness of the importance of Shortleaf Pine and Oak savanna forests, riparian forests, and freshwater habitats. Bluegrass Greensource educators will train preschool educators in three environmental education curricula: Growing Up Wild, Getting Little Feet Wet, and Early Experiences for Environmental Education. We will support these educators as they implement lessons from these curricula in their preschool classrooms. Bluegrass Greensource educators will work directly with these teachers’ students to provide hands-on experiences and lessons relating to the natural world. Whether they are digging through a sensory stream bed, hunting for food and shelter in a savanna-like obstacle course, or incubating eggs, our Junior Nature Explorers will discover animals that rely on local ecosystems, such as the Common Bobwhite,  Prairie Warbler, Hellbender, and freshwater mussels- to name a few! The teachers and students will also have the opportunity to experience some of these animals and habitats on a trip to Salato Wildife Center, Toyota Environmental Education Center and Nature Trail, or the Daniel Boone National Forest.

In this exciting project, we hope to cultivate the moments for the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the natural world. We aim to inspire role models, as well as the next generation of conservation stewards.

Bluegrass Greensource is partnering with the Child Care Council of Kentucky, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States National Forest Service, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, and Community Action Council on our Junior Nature Explorers project. If you are interested in participating or learning more, please contact Rachel Patton at