Parks Are Where We Learn

May 7, 2020 by Amber Stacy & Lydia Konecky

Our job isn’t a job, it’s a calling.

We don’t just teach children about the environment in fun and exciting ways. We build meaningful, sometimes lifelong, relationships and connect individually with our students. This is what the Frick Environmental Center staff live to do. And you can see that it works. The faces of students who return to our classes light up when they see us again, exclaiming,“I remember you!” We can’t tell you how much those moments mean to us.
 
It’s a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship that forms. We value the students who visit the Environmental Center and park and they, in turn, value the Environmental Center and our treasured greenspaces.
 
Everything we do brings us and the students joy, but one of our favorite activities is creating seed balls in our ‘mud kitchen’ with first graders in our Habitat Explorers class. The students explore the meadow in Frick Park, collect seedlings then make seed balls to help new meadow plants grow for the next generation of first graders who will explore and experience the wonders of Frick Park.
 
Newly shaped seed balls in hand, palms delightfully muddy, the Explorers stomp happily back over to the meadow to heave their seed balls into nature, letting out a gleeful shout in the process. They then whisper a wish to the seed ball for it to grow and prosper in the park for the next group of Habitat Explorers.
 
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Our favorite part of the whole day? It’s the dirty hands. Kids are often told to stay clean and look sharp. But that’s not what being a kid is all about. You remember that feeling, I’m sure. The delight of rolling up your sleeves in dirt and just having a great time. That’s what we deliver every day to the kids. Joy and delight, and memories that will stay with them until they have children of their own.
 
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A child once said to us, “My mom told me that if I get my hands dirty then I’m having a good day!” Now we ask the kids, “How many of you are having a good day today” and they all enthusiastically thrust up their dirty hands. It’s amazing.
 
Sincerely,
Amber Stacey and Lydia Konecky, Naturalist Educators
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