The morning started out fantastic. “What do you expect to see when we get in the canyon?” “Squirrels.” “Snakes.” “Majestic birds.” We split into 4 groups of 7 students and a leader and headed down. Half by way of Genessee, half descending behind the school. Four educators, 2 volunteers, 2 teachers, 52 students, one canyon.
The first group I led down the steep slope into the canyon questioned the quick change in temperature and smell. One student connected the smell to a weekly vocabulary word, musty. Another hypothesizes that there is more shade in the canyon, resulting in colder temperatures. That and the sinking of cold air creates a drainage flow. Once in the canyon and layered up, we followed the creek and made discoveries. One student found tracks and after close examination, decided they belonged to raccoons. Others enjoyed identifying plants through comparison of their naturalist guide. Some looked in every oak tree for galls, like they were hidden treasure. They all liked touching sagebrush and fennel, even if they didn’t enjoy the smelly aftermath.
While some students liked plants the most and others enjoyed looking for animals, they all seemed to appreciate the opportunity to learn outdoors. Most of the students we brought to the Tecolote Canyon had never been there before, even though it is mere feet from their school. This is a fantastic program that opens kids eyes to the nature around them. I am so glad I was able to be a part of it.