On Saturday, our local Environmental Studies Center opened their doors for a fun day of exploring the grounds and educational lectures. Each fall and spring the Center hosts an Open House where biologists, local wildlife conservationists and environmental agencies gather, sharing their knowledge with all those in attendance.
With a wonderfully warm fall day, the children and I decided to trek over to the woods for the better part of the afternoon and had such a wonderful time!
My son was thrilled when a docent scooped up this mother opossum and allowed my little guy to pet her. The sweet lady sat there for the entire 15 minutes he spent adoring her, all the while explaining different aspects of the life of this marsupial–from the way her ears are positioned, to her fur-less tail, to how she cares for her young. He clearly was listening and soaking it all in, as he hasn’t stopped talking about the opossum yet!
We are fortunate to live very close to the ocean so it was not a surprise to see the local Sea Lab with their Touch Tank sitting next to the opossum. The children recognized several of the animals spread out across the table and did not hesitate to ask the docents several questions. In fact, they ended up drawing a crowd of children in closer when the others realized that the docents would share their knowledge!
There were several new animal species that had been added to the Touch Tank since my children had seen it last, and they were in awe of all of the differences in God’s creatures. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for my daughter’s lessons in her current Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day science book to be cemented. I am grateful that this spontaneous opportunity presented itself and she was able to be ‘tested’ with questions from the docents once she shared she was studying aquatic marine life for the school year. Couldn’t have asked for a better teachable moment!
After spending quite some time at the Touch Tank, we ventured over to the outdoor pavilion where a lecture on Birds of Prey was being presented by the Center’s resident biologist, complete with the Birds themselves! The children and I were able to see 4 of the 6 predator birds that are represented in our area.
Since the Center takes in animals that have been hurt for rehabilitation, we were even able to see the release of a Hawk that had recovered from falling out of his nest as a new hatch-ling. What a thrill!
We then ventured inside the Center to the reptile and amphibian room and stumbled upon yet another lecture that was just about to begin. While the differences of the two were being discussed, the biologist paraded the various animals around the room, sharing all about the local animals that could be found right in our own back yard. Her enthusiasm was contagious and the children loved the talk!
She even allowed for one of the non-venomous snakes to be petted by my little guys after the lecture was complete.
As we ventured back outside preparing to leave, we stumbled upon the local Rock and Gem society. Here, the docents led the children in a discussion on how the different rocks were discovered and then on the process of how their hidden gems were uncovered.
The children’s biggest surprise? Learning that the large brown, uneven rock before them (bottom right of the picture) was actually fossilized Dinosaur droppings!
We had such a wonderful afternoon, just leisurely wandering around the Center, soaking in all of the knowledge being shared, that we all agreed that we can’t wait until the spring to trek back over to the woods again!