The school bus doors swing open and eager 3rd graders flood out, forming a line that snakes up the entrance trail and into the White Point Nature Preserve. The air buzzes with excited conversation, “Look at the flowers, was that a butterfly?” “Yikes, watch the cactus, that wasn’t a snake was it?” “Shhhh, it’s a bird!” Conversation pauses and the line halts as an Allen’s hummingbird swoops back and forth in display flight directly over the students’ heads. The little bird ascends towards the clouds then drops with a dramatic dive. “Oooh, WOW!” This is a welcome sight after the past two years of remote learning during the pandemic. This group of students from Bonita Street Elementary School participated in the Conservancy’s Student Naturalist Program virtually during fall and is now meeting in-person for the first time – an exciting reunion in nature.
According to Education Director Holly Gray, “We are thrilled that we have been able to transition the Student Naturalist Program from virtual back onto school campuses and that all of our 2022 field trips have been outdoors in nature.” Today the 8- and 9-year-olds will explore four different beautiful natural habitats during their tour of the preserves. They will visit various hands-on learning stations and experience habitat restoration by helping to plant native wildflower seeds. The Education Team and 21 volunteer education docents are grateful for the connections we have made with students despite the last two challenging years, but nothing beats getting students out on the trail where they learn by directly experiencing the natural world.