Wellfield Botanic Gardens is an organization in Elkhart dedicated to promoting the inseparable relationship between water, plants and animals. To read more from its staff and volunteers, visit the gardens’ blog, Make Your Place.
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood." – Rachel Carson
I had a wonderful morning last week seeing and experiencing the gardens through the eyes of children. Ninety first-grade students from Mary Daly Elementary visited Wellfield Botanic Gardens for a “Garden Safari.” During the 90-minute program, each class participated in three different hands-on activities aligned to Indiana science standards. I was lucky enough to lead the groups on a wildlife water safari. We walked the gardens hunting for animals and the water they need for life. The children were delighted to be outside and were really engaged in looking and listening for animals and signs of animal activity. The excitement was palpable as they saw geese, blackbirds, robins, ants, roly-polys, fish, turtles and other organisms. The first graders even managed to walk without talking so as not to scare off the animals! Other activities focused on our drinking water, groundwater in general and looking after our environment to keep the water clean. These concepts were shared through stories, games and hands-on activities.
This field trip would not have been possible without the support of many people and organizations within our community. The Elkhart County Community Foundation (ECCF) provided us with a grant to develop educational programming. In the few months she has been with us, Angie Bell, our new education coordinator, has done a marvelous job of writing curricula for first through fifth-grade classes. The ECCF funded a program through the Elkhart County Museum Association to provide students in third through fifth grade with field trip opportunities. We have had several schools come to us that way. Individuals have stepped forward to lead and to help with activities. It is heartwarming to see the community work together to provide this type of opportunity for our children.
In addition to creating field trip programs and material for schools, Angie is developing programs for all of us – families, adults, teenagers, etc. I have been the Education Chair of the Board for the last couple of years and am thrilled by the growth in programming I have seen over that period.
Check out our website for more information.
Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living." – Zenobia Barlow
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