Nature provides volumes of opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving and STEM education for youth. Interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing and to experiment with formulating ideas, inquisitive questions and developing personal hypotheses.
"We're all educators here, so we pride ourselves in helping people of all ages learn, to truly engage and to help them focus on natural phenomenons around us. We help youths see what's happening and why it's happening," assures Pat Heaney, The Watershed Institute assistant director of education.
Pat says their overall mission is to awaken curiosity and wonder about the natural world.
"Unique benefits that children and youths get from Watershed programs and classes include fresh air, exercise, a boost in mental health and an appreciation in greenery while they step away from electronic screens," she suggests.
Pat says parents are taking positive steps when encouraging their children to participate in these types of initiatives that enable them to get better connected to natural cycles.
Watershed Institute staffers steward the 950-acre reserve with the goal of preserving the land and water so it continues to provide healthy habitats. The staff includes policy advocates, scientists, land and water stewards, naturalists and educators. The reserve also provides a natural place of refuge and sanctuary for all visitors. The land and water now there are the traditional and ancestral territory of the Lenni-Lenape; so, ultimate respect is paid to Lenape people’s past, continuing presence and future in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora.
The Watershed Institute has a series of in-person offerings in August for youngsters who are 3-5 years old. Adult attendance and dressing for the weather of the event date is required. Classes generally include a lesson on the topic of the day, followed by a hike, art activity and game.
- AUG. 2; 10-30-11:30 a.m.
Preschool Nature Class: Lovely Ladybugs
Join Watershed Educator Alison Novobilsky to learn more about cute ladybugs, their lifecycle and what they eat. Go on a bug hunt to find some.
- AUG. 9; 10-30-11:30 a.m.
Preschool Nature Class: Wildflower Sensations
Join Alison to look closer at the lovely flowering plants around the Reserve.
- AUG. 16; 10-30-11:30 a.m.
Preschool Nature Class: Summer Birds
Join Alison Novobilsky to gain increased awareness of local birds through listening games, discussion and a bird walk.
For youths who are 6 years old and older, the following class is scheduled this month. Adult attendance is required at this one, too.
- AUG. 12; 8-9:30 p.m.
Insect Orchestra Night Hike
Deep summer nights are alive with a rich and omnipresent orchestra of insects. Join Jeff Hoagland, The Watershed Institute director of education, for this hike to meet members of nocturnal orchestras, while gaining an appreciation and understanding of the beauty and urgency of their musical presentations. Some of the performers may include the snowy tree cricket, ground crickets and bush crickets, the true katydid and the slightly musical conehead.