January 2018 Field Notes E-News

Over A Decade of Service: An Interview with Linda Sarratt

What is your favorite experience with WRI?

Studying the macroinvertebrates in the Wenatchee River with the 4th graders. WRI provides everyone with knee high boots so we can go into the river in groups of four. Two students use kick nets which are basically two poles with a net to catch the macroinvertebrates the other students kick up with their boots. We bring what is collected up to the examining tables on the beach and identify what we found with magnifying glasses and laminated pictures.  We discuss how the macroinvertebrates indicate the health of the river. At the same time, a group is downstream testing water samples for things such as pH, dissolved oxygen and nutrients. There are usually low nitrogen levels. We discuss how this affects the health of the river and the whole ecosystem.

How long have you been involved, why did you start, why do you keep coming back?

I have been volunteering with Field Days Since 2006. I think I was the first volunteer when Field Days started with Jodie Marquardt. I used to help almost every day WRI needed me. I have helped with field days in all seasons. From snow science to reading a compass, identifying birds and discussing the animals who live in the barn. It is an opportunity to use my education degree and give back in my retirement from banking. I enjoy staying involved with the students in our community. The addition of The Barn really changed the program allowing for equipment and supply storage allowing for the expansion of Field Days.

What does Connecting, People, Communities and the Natural World mean to you? Why is it important?

The connection to the natural world helps to ensure future generations will care about our planet. I like working with young people and feel we need to teach kids not to just go along with their friends but to have unique ideas – It seems some do not know how they feel about an issue until they text friends for consensus.  I feel that we need to teach outdoor education with a scientific approach that encourages critical thinking. We need to connect with our environment to understand how important it is to protect and value the Earth, to be part of the solution for a healthy environment.     

What do you do personally, to stay connected to the natural world?

As an avid member of the local gardening community through the Cascade Garden Club, Washington Native Plant Society and as a Master Gardener, I like to get my hands dirty. I especially enjoy the Spring time wildflowers. Ski Hill is a treasure trove of wildflowers – One of my favorites that can be found in that microclimate is the brown peonies. Generally, you can find them near the lodge where there is shade and the snow stays the longest leaving the soil moist and cool.

What are you passionate about (besides nature and science!)

Reading, sewing/quilting, gardening, hiking, skiing, working with stain glass and most of all being with friends and family. I like to work with my hands and stay busy!

 

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 the 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 School 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.