Registration for the Summer Explorers Biology Camp and the Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom Workshop are now open at the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center web site, www.friendsofprairiewetlands.com. Both events are held during the last week of June in Fergus Falls, MN.
Youth currently in 4th and 5th grades are invited to register now for the day camp, June 26-28, 2018. “The camp is ideal for kids who are curious and enjoy learning about nature and being outdoors. They can learn about the biology of prairies and wetlands, and have fun at the same time,” stated Mona Davis, camp instructor.
This year’s theme is birds. Camp instructors are Fergus Falls 4th grade Prairie Science Class teacher Mona Davis and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service environmental educator Molly Stoddard. Sixty youth can attend.
The camp is not just a learning opportunity for youth. Fifteen visiting educators attend the camp alongside campers and learn techniques for teaching outdoors. Each student is part of a small team led by one of these educators.
The Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom Workshop takes place June 25-28, 2018, and is for all who teach children: pre-service teachers, licensed educators, school teachers, home school educators, non-formal educators, interns, volunteers, Friends members, naturalists, park rangers, etc. Educator teams from the same geographic area are encouraged to sign up and attend together.
Workshop participants are immersed in learning how to use the outdoors as a classroom with integrated curriculum to enhance and strengthen a child’s education. They observe professionals and apply outdoor classroom methods by leading the same youth daily, outdoors, in a supportive team teaching environment. They gain knowledge and real world experience with the prairie pothole ecosystem. It is an opportunity to strengthen outdoor teaching and reflection skills and apply them to indoor curriculum.
“A very unusual aspect of this professional development is the immediate opportunity to apply lessons with a small group of motivated youth who are attending the Summer Explorers Biology Camp,” Stoddard explained.
Each participant receives a certificate for 30 clock hours of continuing education credit, free lodging option in the on-site dormitory, hands-on practice using weather monitoring equipment, field guides, field journal, and more, and a printed copy of the Compass to Nature booklet.
Workshop instructors are also Molly Stoddard and Mona Davis. Registration for both the camp and workshop take place on a first-come, first-served basis. A waiting list will be maintained in case of cancellations. Cost for the camp is $25 (scholarships available). The workshop costs $50.
The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC) is comprised of 330 acres of wetlands and prairies and includes a visitor center with classrooms, exhibit hall, and dining area, plus four miles of trails and 28 wetlands. It is located on State Highway 210 East, south of Fergus Falls, one mile from exit 57 off I-94. For more information, call (218) 998-4480, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/fergus_falls_wmd or find the PWLC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrairieWetlands.
The PWLC is part of the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the over 568-million-acres, which encompasses over 560 National Wildlife Refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.