Sharing the Natural Wonder of Benton Hot Springs Ranch
written by Piper Wright, ESLT high school intern
Educating both children and adults about the value of land conservation is an important part of ESLT’s mission. The various conservation lands that ESLT has can be an excellent educational tool: getting young children out on the land can spark their interest in wildlife and the natural world around them. Our project began in early February with an idea to partner with the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and Edna Beaman Elementary to continue the “Birds in the Classroom” Program that previous AmeriCorps members had participated in. Hillary and I picked a date for our program and contacted Darcy Lent at Edna Beaman Elementary School: our program was on its way! Over the next few months, Hillary and I planned the activities for our trip and made all of the necessary arrangements.
On Tuesday May 17, 2011 Hillary, Kathy Duvall (an Audubon society volunteer), and I headed out to Benton to talk to the second and sixth graders at Benton’s Edna Beaman Elementary School. First, we gave our Power Point presentation to the students and gave them a chance to show off their knowledge of birds by identifying the pictures, sometimes with the help of field guides. Once we left the classroom, we gave the kids a demonstration of how to use binoculars to spot birds and let them all practice. After they all knew how to use the binoculars, they loaded onto the bus and we headed out to the Benton Hot Springs Ranch conservation easement.
First we took the kids on a short walk around the ponds on the property and helped them spot birds. We identified the different birds we saw and they checked them off on their scavenger hunt list. After an hour of bird watching, we found a place for the students to sit and draw pictures of their favorite birds and the habitat around them. Then we walked them back to their bus; they all expressed interest in birds and had a great time. We hoped they would take away an appreciation of nature from the field trip that would guide them in the way they live their lives, and maybe even create a future generation of land trust volunteers and conservation land owners!