Can you believe it’s already July? Kids and families across the country are enjoying the outdoors now that school is out and the weather is warm. This is the perfect time of year to explore parks and recreation areas in your community or in another state. Don't forget that it's Park and Recreation Month. Check out the many things to do here.
Return of the Canoemobile
On June 25 and 26, our friends from Wilderness Inquiry brought six of their 24-foot Voyageur Canoes to Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland as part of a Great Outdoors America Week celebration organized by Outdoor Alliance for Kids. Luckily, I was able to join them and see more than 300 kids paddling in canoes. The children were not only able to explore the Anacostia River, but also participated in land-based education activities. More photos here.
Where’s Buddy Bison Been?
We wrapped up a great school year with Buddy Bison students around the country who visited and learned about some amazing places. Below are a few “end of the school year” stories to inspire you to get outdoors this summer and have some wonderful adventures with your family:
Exploring Estell Manor Park, NJ
At the Warren E. Fox Nature Center at Estell Manor Park, I met more than 70 excited 3rd graders from Richmond Avenue Elementary in Atlantic City. The students hiked the park trails, explored wetlands, played outdoor games and learned about the wildlife in the park. They were amazed that a park could have so many different kinds of animals and habitats – and be so close to their school! Many of the students told me how much they want to come back. More photos here. Thank you to our friends at the Caesar’s Foundation for sponsoring Richmond Avenue Elementary!
A Return to the Dunes, IN
This spring, my 5th-grade friends from Jose de Diego Community Academy visited Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and explored several unique ecosystems found in the park. The students discovered ponds, dunes, forests and bogs and learned about the natural forces that shape each of these special places. They even walked on a boardwalk floating on a mat of moss – and I heard there are insect-eating plants there too! More photos here. Thank you to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP for sponsoring Jose de Diego Community Academy!
Summer at Glenridge Recreation Area, MD
For the third time this school year, I headed over to Glenridge Recreation Area with the 5th graders at Beacon Heights Elementary. Throughout the year we observed the landscape changes from winter to spring to summer – and collected many bags of trash from the park. During the hike, the students learned about the importance of worms for the health of the soil and forests. More photos here. Thank you Pepco Holdings for sponsoring Beacon Heights Elementary!
Visiting Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, MD
I enjoyed a full day of hiking, scavenger hunts, and museum activities with the 5th, 6th and 7th grades from Washington School for Girls in DC. The 5th and 6th graders had a wonderful time learning about the endangered whooping crane program at the refuge and even got to dress up as one. The 7th graders learned about the grey wolf and practiced the classic wolf howl as a group – it was very loud! We ended the day with a 2-mile hike around the lake and saw lots of wildlife, including birds and frogs. More photos here.
Discovering the Potomac River, VA
On my last trip of the school year, I travelled to Potomac Overlook Regional Park with the 4th and 5th grades from Lynbrook Elementary in Virginia. Located just miles from downtown DC, the park offers some great hiking trails through a mature forest ecosystem. The students and teachers were all amazed that this habitat existed so close to their homes – especially the huge trees that are several hundred years old. During the day we hiked, learned about animal and plant adaptations and talked about why it’s important to be good park stewards. More photos here. Thank you Dominion Power for sponsoring Lynbrook Elementary this year!
Are you Interested in an Environmental Education Opportunity?
Are you interested in environmental education? Would you like to attend an intensive, science-based program at parks and forests in the beautiful state of New Mexico? If the answer is yes, then apply to attend the 13th annual national New Mexico Minority Youth Environmental Training Institute from July 25 to August 3, 2014. Sponsored by the National Hispanic Environmental Council, qualified students, aged 17-20, are encouraged to apply for this full scholarship that will introduce students to the world of STEM education and careers at the Glorieta Conference Center, in Glorieta, NM. Applications are currently being accepted and the materials can be found on their website at www.nheec1.org.