“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!