West Long Branch, roughly 90 miles away from the wilds of Stokes State Forest, is quite the distance to drive with 73 fifth grade students from the Frank Antonides Elementary School. Luckily, the teachers and parents chaperones were able to endure the ride and their patience was rewarded with three glorious days here at the School of Conservation.
Several of their lessons, Survival, Stream-geo Ecology, and Beaver Ecology, involved long hikes throughout the woods, which bad weather surely would have put a damper on. However, the students were so eager and energized to learn that I don’t believe any sort of bad weather would have dampened their spirits. During the meals, tales of fun and excitement passed from one student to the next about their previous activity, with many students having a difficult time deciding which one they liked best.
During Black Bear Ecology the students learned all about the state’s bear population. They saw signs of black bear right on campus and had the opportunity to investigate one of the traps that the Department of Environmental Protection uses to capture bears. In Conservation Photography, students learned how to capture great images of the natural environment. At the end of the class they printed out their pictures, matted them and presented their works of art to the rest of the class.
The students weren’t the only ones having fun though. The teachers and parents joined in on the lessons enjoyed the learning experience as well. Overall, everyone had a great time at the School of Conservation, including the NJSOC educational staff, and we look forward to having another group of fifth graders from Frank Antonides Elementary School visit again next year.