We just had a big smile delivered to us at the Land Trust when a package of thank you cards from Blue Heron Middle School eighth-graders arrived in the mail. These kids had just attended the last of five field trips this year through the Port Townsend School District’s place-based learning initiative. The Blue Heron Middle School 8th grade class—around 80 strong—joined Jefferson Land Trust Stewardship Associate Carrie Clendaniel and eight environmental experts who all volunteered their time for a full day to lead activities to engage students in learning experiences on the land.
Check out some of our favorite thank you cards in the facebook album at the “website” link below. Here are a few snippets from these cards that really touched us, like this reminder that this work really does make a difference for the future…In more than one way:
“I really appreciate you guys hosting my fellow students and I at Uncas and Snow Creek. It was a really great experience to perform what I’ve been doing in the science room in the field. This experience has gotten me to ponder my possible career choices. It is so touching that so many people went out of their way for us. And I wish I could express more than I’m leading on how truly thankful I am!” -Sam
And here’s a statement that delivered a dose of reality…and a breath of relief:
“I never really liked the outdoors until I went on that field trip. Thank you for making me see the beauty of nature.” – Keith
At the head of Discovery Bay, students explored Snow Creek Estuary Preserve, site of an extensive habitat restoration project that will entail removal of an invasive weed infestation and reintroduction of native flora. Here, students were guided by a local expert and provided with field guides to study native and non-native plant identification.
Then volunteers lead water-quality testing and macroinvertebrate sampling at the estuary of Snow Creek, and at a spot further upstream at the nearby Snow Creek Uncas Preserve. Students put their macroinvertebrate samples on a scale of pollution-tolerant to pollution-intolerant, and used the information to map stream health.
Then, for perspective on the forested habitat at Snow Creek Uncas Preserve, students got a forestry lesson from a professional forester. The kids learned about tree growth habits, calculations of economic value, and about the habitat values timberlands provide. Forester Earl’s “tree math challenge” definitely made an impression, judging from the thank you cards!
Finally, we ended the day with a stewardship activity to make for a deeper connection with this place for these kids. Students explored the streamside zone, a rich mossy forest filled with songbirds and bigleaf maples, and selected a natural feature they thought was important to share and highlight. Together, they mapped a trail to link these features, and then all pitched in to build the trail.
Big thanks especially to our volunteer activity-leaders for making this field trip such a rich and impactful experience for these kids! You are making a real difference, teaching the next generation of leaders to love the land so they will conserve and care for and conserve it for the generations to come.