June 07, 2016 2:30PM
On Tuesday, 16 first-through-third graders enrolled in the PSU Nature Reach Day Camp studied mats with animal foot prints, shells, the remnants of nests and even scat (made out of plastic, of course) to try to interpret scenes they might find in nature. Using field guides, the students eagerly imagined what birds and mammals might have passed that way and what had happened when they did.
It was just the reaction Delia Lister, Nature Reach coordinator, hoped for.
“I want them to start to develop an appreciation for nature and to be excited about being outside,” Lister said.
Lister has been leading the Nature Reach Day Camps for nine years, which take place at the PSU Nature Reserve southeast of Pittsburg. She limits the camps to just 15 or 16 students and the slots fill up quickly.
“Limiting the number makes it more personal,” Lister said, “and the more personal it is, the better learning experience it is for the students.”
Each day of the week-long camp is devoted to a different subject. The students began the week learning about birds. Then came insects, mammals, plants and gardening and finally, reptiles and fossils.
“We make the activities really hands-on, which is especially important for youngsters this age,” Lister said.
The camps have been going on long enough that previous campers are now helping.
“They’ve been through this and have an appreciation for what we want the students to learn,” Lister said.