Imagine a classroom made up of wild animals, a window into a professional world, and a venue for students to create on their own, or with others, something that has real value in the real world. This classroom exists and it is shared by many students in our community. It just takes making the connections between the students and the authentic learning experiences.
Students are capable of doing authentic work that adds to ways that can make the world a better, richer place. Starting this year, the sixth grade Blandford Environmental Education Program Students (BEEPS) have been involved in various mentorship tracks with Blandford Nature Center staff (Wildlife, Farm, and Environmental Education) based on their interests. Through their experiences they gain valuable, real-life experiences to create a foundation for their continued future studies and potential career goals.
Rebecca Overweg, sixth grade student, shared,
“I love this mentor time with Blandford staff because it give an opportunity to learn more about the injured animals. The terrestrial turtles are so fun to oil/ lotion up. They need this care to help keep their skin moist. All the owls are fun to look at and watch.”
Quinn Amaya had this to say,
“In just a few weeks into this mentorship time I have learned a lot! I look forward to every Thursday because every time I go there I learn something new – and we never do the same thing. I love working with the animals, my favorite would have to be the turtles. I appreciate Mrs. Lori for what she has taught us so far.”
Anna Sumners went on to research the Flying Squirrel.
“I found out some interesting facts. Blandford Nature Center’s Flying Squirrel is a Southern Flying Squirrel. The Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels are the only types of flying squirrels found in Northern America. There is not much of a difference between the two. Both appear grayish brown. Flying squirrels do not have the true capability to fly like a bird, rather they glide from tree to tree. Flying squirrels like to eat foods such as nuts, seeds, fungi, fruit and insects.
In our class at the Blandford School we have a very similar pet, the Sugar Glider. It has the same gliding capabilities as the Flying Squirrel. At school, the sugar glider will jump from person to person. You can tell if he is about to you because you’ll be standing two to three feet away, and he will be looking at you.
These opportunities are available for other children too! Blandford’s beautiful and complex ecosystems are here so children can learn, engage, explore, enjoy and value nature’s endless wonders. Blandford offers a variety of field trip experiences, community programs, and seasonal camps.