Real-life Learning Experiences

While following lessons from a prepared curriculum is valuable, there is no substitute for real-life experience.  It becomes a prefect combination when the two meet.  Starting this year, the sixth grade Blandford Environmental Education Program Students (BEEPS) have been involved in various mentorship tracks  Through their experiences they gain valuable, real-life experiences to create a foundation for their continued future studies and potential career goals.

Cate Garretson participates in the environmental education mentorship track. As you read on you’ll soon see that in just one day she’s gaining some valuable life skills – “What time are we scheduled to be there?”  –  as well as integrated content standards – “Let’s put our writing skills to good use!” –  woven into this memorable day in her life.  She offered to create this blog story to give our community a glimpse into a day in her life as a Blandford School Student.

A Day in the Life

Written by Cate Garretson #39

“Run! We’re late!” Georgia, Nick, Sam and I had an incredible opportunity to be a mentee at Blandford Nature Center. That meant we shadowed Blandford’s Environmental Educators and looked at how the nature center functioned from the inside.  We helped in anyway, shape or form. Here is a day in our shoes.

“Run! We’re late!” yelled Nick. “Sam, I thought you said it was on Thursday!” I said exasperated. “Uh…, I could have sworn it was…” expressed Sam nonchalantly. We ran, out of breath by how fast we were going and how hard we were laughing at our forgetfulness and our carelessness. Nick and I arrived there first in three minutes. Our new record because this isn’t the first time we’ve been late. We got in and ran to Ms. Kristen’s office.  “We’re so sorry we’re late.” I said embarrassed. Ms. Kristen replied “Oh, it’s fine. In fact, I moved the time to 9:30 not 9:00” (which we thought it was). Nick and I waited for Georgia and Sam and cracked up telling them, that first we didn’t have to run and second, we were not late. So, we went and looked at the animals until 9:30.

We went into education office when our mentorship started. One of the greatest things about this mentorship is that you really get to know the staff. Before mentorship I had never even heard the name “Frankie”, now I know that Frankie is a super fun educator who is funny and kind.

While Ms. Kristen had to go and get something, Ms. Janet told us about the blog she works with, and she asked us if we could write a story of our choosing for the blog. It is so fun working with adults that trust you enough that they would let you write a story for Blandford’s website. The trust they place in us gave me the boost to accept the proposition. Georgia, Sam, Nick, and I started talking about what story we were going to do when we heard Ms. Kristen yell from the kitchen.

“Hey BEEPS, we could use some extra hands in the kitchen” Kristen yelled.  So Sam, Nick, Georgia and I went into the kitchen where we were told to tear the tags and the plastic of the new silverware. We started an assembly line where Nick and Sam would take the tags off then they would hand them to Georgia and me and we would take the plastic off.  As we worked we used the time to collaborate and discuss the blog project. I would write a story on a day as us, Georgia would write about how it is more important for kids to learn “in” nature rather than “about” nature, Sam would write about how frogging can severely damage the frogs but how Blandford school does it that when students go frogging they don’t permanently damage the frogs. Nick is writing one of my favorites, it is how song should be used more in education.

We had just finished all the silverware when we thought “Where is Ms. Kristen?” We went and asked a volunteer and they said that they saw her last at the schoolhouse. When they said that I thought “Of course, we are shadowing today.” So, like always Nick, Georgia, Sam, and I ran to the school house and were fortunate enough to catch Ms. Kristen before she left. My favorite part of that day was when Ms. Kristen stopped at a pond and had all the kindergarteners look for frogs.  There were two sides of the pond and I was on the left side pointing out a frog to this little kindergarten girl when she grabbed my big hand in her tiny one and showed me to this log where three frogs were. It was so heartwarming having her grab my hand. That moment of holding her adorable hands made my day.   Then Frankie, another helper, told Sam and I that we should probably head back to school or else we would miss lunch at 11:15. Sam and I gathered Georgia and Nick and we all went back to school.

So this gives a glimpse into one of our typical mentorship days for us and it is so incredible that I wouldn’t give it up. So, even though we miss two hours of school and there is a lot to make up, nothing could replace the thrill I got from being a part of this mentorship opportunity.


We will be sharing more about this program as we close out the school year.  Blandford Nature Center offers a host of opportunities to give our community’s students authentic work that adds to the abundance of ways that they can make the world a better, richer place starting right now.

Related: Former BEEP Now Teacher



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