by Tasha Frazier, CIP Visitor Services Intern Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Two big yellow school buses came slowly down the gravel road this morning, filled with excited, eager-to-learn, smiling second graders. Today was just not going to be another typical Monday in the Visitor Center at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Thurgood Marshall Elementary had come to spend the morning at the Refuge to learn about what it is that we do here.
The students filed off the buses running towards the entrance of the Visitor Center, full of energy after their forty five minute drive. They were greeted by staff biologist Gabe Harper, a former SCA CIP Intern the previous year.
The students inched in close hanging onto his every word. I hoped the students wouldn’t be distracted by me snapping away with my camera but instead they were filled with questions about snakes, and fishing. As Gabe continued to engage them, he drew them in even more by informing them that they would be broken into three different groups with three different tasks here on the Refuge. I couldn’t help but to smile at how excited these second graders were.
The “Scavengers” group had to go out onto the Refuge beach and do a simulation of a turtle crawl, where they had to dig through the sand to find 17 “turtle eggs”. Boy did their eyes light up when we told them that!
The “Detective” group were given nets and told to go down to the pond and investigate some of the things that were flying around in the air and swimming around in the pond.
The last group we referred to as the “Cool” group. Why the cool group you ask? Because they were the ones that didn’t have to pal around outside in the heat! It was peaking at 93 degrees this morning out here. They were able to watch a film inside our Visitor Center that educated the young students on the sea turtles and ocean animals that reside here on the Refuge and explained what we are trying to do to help them.
I walked from station to station in the heat sweating and smiling, visiting the different groups to take pictures and answer any questions that they had all the while silently thinking “I’ve never seen a group of kids so anxious to learn about the outdoors!” Despite their frequent screams, or random swats of air directed at the dragon flies that dominate our entrance trails, they seemed amazed by the land that was now surrounding them. I was able to walk with one of the groups down to the pond area and a young girl named Unique asked me if any of the snakes would bite her. I chuckled a bit and told her that “the snakes won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, but don’t worry I’ll be here so everything will be okay.”
To my surprise little Unique stayed by my side the whole time. She asked several questions, some I didn’t even know the answer to, but her inquisitiveness made my heart warm. It was refreshing to know that there are some children out there that are fascinated by the world that surrounds them and how things came to be the way they are.
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