Last month, students from KIPP DC Lead Academy, one of our Buddy Bison Schools enjoyed the beautiful Maryland spring. Over two days, 400 1st through 4th graders experienced a wealth of activities at the Nature Center in Watkins Regional Park.

Students got face time with live animal ambassadors, with special programming from the park naturalists who introduced them to reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds of prey. Naturalists highlighted the characteristics and adaptations that make each species unique. Examining every animal up close, the kids all touched a corn snake, a diamondback terrapin, and even a hissing cockroach. Students explored the interactive Nature Center and viewed the resident animals and interpretive exhibits, focusing on native species and their role in the forest ecosystem. 

Next, National Park Trust staff took students on small group hikes through the interpretive trails. While walking the paths, students put their new knowledge of local animals to the test. Highlights of these hikes included finding an American toad, looking for wildflower blooms, and spotting woodpeckers up in the trees. By the end of each hike, they felt comfortable hiking with their new understanding of trail markers, as well as the wildlife around them.  

And lastly, students spent time on the Nature Center’s one-of-a-kind Wizard of Oz-themed playground, which was a hit for all. The true joy at being able to play outside after the months of cold weather was evident on everyone’s faces