Dupree Outdoor Days Connect Garrard and Jessamine County Students to Nature


“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”

― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

The Nature Conservancy’s newest Kentucky nature preserve invites people to connect with nature in order to deepen their understanding, appreciation, and support for Kentucky’s lands and waters. Schools in the area responded to that invitation with a resounding yes! During the month of October, approximately 400 students from Garrard and Jessamine Counties visited Dupree Nature Preserve to experience outdoor learning days.


The focus of the outdoor learning days was to allow children the opportunity to explore the trails of the preserve while learning about environmental subjects. Students attended sessions that highlighted Kentucky animals, watersheds and water quality, orienteering, tree identification, and raft construction with the goal of developing knowledge and skills by participating in real-life projects. Students were able to connect to their local environment and learn the importance of stewardship of their community’s natural resources.

Although favorite activities varied from student to student, raft building received the most enthusiastic response. This activity highlighted the ferry that was once found on the preserve. Water travel was important to the settlers that lived here, as it allowed them to ship their goods to a wider market. The questions posed to the students were: How did the settlers cross the river? How did they send and receive goods in this setting? Students were challenged to use natural materials to construct a raft that could transport goods in the absence of a ferry.

One student summed up her experience as the buses were leaving by shouting “Thank you! We had a great day!” Bluegrass Greensource would like to thank Toyota for funding Dupree Outdoor Days and TNC volunteer Ken Brooks for coordinating the events. We had a great day, too!



Creating Educational Opportunities for the Dupree Nature Preserve

Dupree Sign photo

It is not every day one gets to be part of a project with the potential to impact generations. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy of Lexington, Bluegrass Greensource was invited to create educational programming for the region’s newest nature preserve. The Dupree Nature Preserve in Garrard County opened to the public on October 5, 2013 and was a project years in the making. Named after the family of Thomas P. Dupree, Sr., the preserve will honor Mr. Dupree’s desire to conserve the land for future generations of children. Creating a space for children to learn about nature in a hands-on, experiential way is important to Mr. Dupree who credits his own love of nature with time he spent hiking and camping as a child in Harlan County, KY.

Three groups of school children from Garrard County had the chance to explore the preserve and work with Bluegrass Greensource educators during an Outdoor Day, sponsored by Toyota. The fourth-graders learned about watersheds and water quality, karst geology, topographical mapping, orienteering, and forestry. Many of the children were delighted to see Daniel Boone, who had once laid claim to the area, make an “appearance” complete in period costume to discuss the region’s history and guide them in raft-building. The next Outdoor Day of education is planned for October 18.

Dupree Daniel Boone photo

Bluegrass Greensource’s outreach specialist researched and provided written materials about the history of the land, Mr. Dupree Sr., and the preserve scavenger hunt; as well as contributed QR codes for the trail signs. Preserve Monitor Kenneth Brooks assisted in the writing of the land parcel’s history and shared key facts. For instance, in addition to Daniel Boone’s early claims to the land in 1767, the proximity to the river in what is now called Polly’s Bend made it a great site for a ferry. By 1790, a ferry was operational and vital in transporting produce, tobacco, bourbon, corn, pork, and hemp along the Kentucky River.

Dupree Kids learning photo

To visit the preserve, use the address: 2991 Polly’s Bend Road, Lancaster, KY, 40444 in order to map directions.

For additional coverage of the Dupree Nature Preserve, see the following:

The Nature Conservancy’s site:

Herald Leader article by Tom Eblen:

Tom Eblen’s other article from his blog: