Cider / MADD
On September 20th 2017 150 WRI supporters came together at the Riverside Center in Cashmere to celebrate and support the Wenatchee River Institute, which began its work here 10 years ago this week.
Falling in Love with Fall By: Tinity Korcz, Travelling Naturalist
Stories of what happened over the weekend, in class and at recess bounced off the walls of the cafeteria. Joyful laughter soared to the ceiling, and smiles filled the room. Energy levels were expected to be this high on a Monday afternoon, just after 7+ hours in class. But this was different. I couldn’t help but notice an overwhelming energy of excitement, appreciation, and anticipation. Students finished up their snack and eagerly waited to be dismissed for recess.
Walking outside; a new cool, clean breeze swept my face. I looked towards the blacktop and playground expecting like normal, for them to be overcrowded with kids. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, kids were running in the field and rolling down the hills into piles of leaves. They were throwing leaves in the air to dance and spin under them as they fell. It became clear that the energy of excitement and appreciation during snack was due to the changing season. Fall had come, and it was truly a special time.
Shortly after, it was time for our activity to start. In weeks prior, students explored the interconnected nature of all things living and non-living. They learned about a salmon’s life cycle and bird migration through games and art. We explored relationships between native plants and animals through scientific investigations, and created simple bird feeders to hang and hopefully attract native birds to their homes. This week, we continued our bird lesson from last week with a specific focus on native bird calls.
We circled up under the most beautifully colored maple tree on campus. We listened to the sounds around us in silence for a few moments. I broke the silence with a question, “What did you hear?” Students from all parts of circle chimed in, describing and acting out the sounds they heard. I couldn’t help but smile. After these past years working with students in the After Sschool Program, I’m convinced that something magical happens outside. Learning seems to come so naturally in an outdoor setting, and in a way students encourage each other to learn. I showed them a few pictures of native birds, we identified field marks, and practiced calls. Then it was time for our walk (or as the students call it, an adventure!) to listen for bird songs, spot birds in the area, and practice our newly learned bird calls. “Cheese-burger, chicka- dee- dee- dee-, YANK YANK YANK, Chi-ca-go” followed as we walked through the field.
We soon found ourselves on the furthest end of campus next to an undisturbed grouping of maples. The leaves above and below reminded me of the beautiful array of colors only found during a sunset. The kids look at me, and I looked at them, and we all started jumping and dancing under the leaves as they fell.
That day, just like so many days in the ASP was filled with natural learning, creativity, and an overwhelming sense of being free. The opportunity to expand the minds of our youth though outdoor environmental education is something that I’ll never take for granted. I really appreciate having a job that encourages children to question and explore the natural world. I truly believe in this program, and I see the importance of working with students that without, could fall further behind and eventually be lost.