JANUARY 18, 2018 — As a nature enthusiast, I’m sure you can remember a time during your childhood when you discovered new and exciting things while exploring nature in your community. At Nature NB, we get to see these discoveries first hand when we educate kids about nature in New Brunswick. We thought you might enjoy this story from Emma, one of our nature educators.
Working for Nature NB, I get to spend a lot of time outdoors exploring nature, but one of my favourite experiences is being able to share New Brunswick’s natural beauty with kids.
One autumn afternoon, I was leading a group of city-based kids on an adventure through a wooded trail. This was a really special opportunity for them, because we were able to provide transportation to bring them out of the city to the secluded trail.
It was a beautiful day! The sun was bright and warm, the leaves were just starting to turn beautiful shades of red and yellow, the smell of cedar filled the air, and late summer flowers were still in bloom. And yet, the kids were nervous. Many of them weren’t used to being in natural woods like this. They were worried about meeting a bear, or a snake, or a tick, or even the Blair Witch. I tried to calm their nerves as best as I could, but even with my reassurance that wildlife wouldn’t viciously attack us in the woods, the kids were still jittery as we took our first steps on the trail.
Leaves rustled behind us. “What’s that??” one of the kids gasped, grabbing my hand tightly. I looked back in the direction of the sound and smiled. It was just a squirrel, digging in leaf litter and nibbling on a fallen cone. I pointed it out to the group and the kids watched the squirrel for a few minutes, until it scurried away to find something else to eat.
We continued along the trail. As I pointed out more things that make their homes in the woods, like brightly coloured mushrooms and fuzzy liche
ns and camouflaged moths, the kids started to relax. Finding their adventurous footing, they began to venture ahead of me on the trail and ask me to look at all the interesting things that they found.
Then we heard something that made all the kids stop in their tracks. “What’s that??” one said, but this time with curious excitement. It was a sweet sound, familiar to many but new to this group of kids.
We paused on the trail. I asked the kids to be as quiet as they possibly could.
We heard it again.
In a tiny flurry, as if on cue, a dozen Black-Capped Chickadees began to hop from branch to branch above our heads. The kids greeted them with tiny gasps of wonderment and hushed whispers of “aww”.
The little birds danced through the trees, and the kids grinned and giggled as they got closer and closer.
As we resumed our hike and continued toward the end of the trail, one young girl asked me, “Do you live in the forest?” She looked disappointed when I told her I didn’t. “Oh,” she said, “I wish I could live here forever.”
Nature education is a cornerstone of Nature NB’s work toward protecting New Brunswick’s natural heritage. We engage over 5000 kids across the province each year, in both French and English, through hands-on nature discovery programs.
Your financial support allows us to offer these programs for free to schools and community groups across the province.
We hope you consider making a donation so we can continue to offer our education programs.
Vanessa Roy-McDougall, Executive Director