Hillcrest School went into the wild Monday morning to get a lesson straight from Mother Nature.
The students ventured to the Baker Wetlands to learn about wildlife, elevation, movement and the history of the area.
“I believe that the next generation has to have a shared sense of place and space,” said Bob Burkhart, the Wakarusa Watershed marshal. “The idea is that if you get out here in the natural surroundings and breathe the fresh air and look at other wildlife, you understand that we’re all basically bio-critters.”
The students got a hands-on reptile and amphibian lesson from retired high school biology teacher Stan Roth.
“Snapping turtles have a bad reputation,” he told the sixth-graders. “They’re really pussycats, but they don’t want you to know that.”
Some of the students had never set foot in the wetlands.
“(It’s my) first time,” Jake Delatorie said. “Pretty cool.”
Classmate Tiffany McIntosh enjoyed the wild marshland. “It’s really cool,” she said. “It’s so peaceful and it calms me down.”
The wetlands field trip was designed to get children involved in the outdoors.
“What we’re doing is our piece to help the last child in the woods or no child left inside, to make sure that our kids don’t grow up with nature deficit disorder,” Burkhart said.
Sandy Sanders, the Wakarusa Wetland Learners Project coordinator for the Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance, said that after the field trips this week, the group will have reached 20 Lawrence schools.
And the kids are getting the message to get outside.
“If you just want to get out of the house and don’t have anything else to do, you could just go for a walk with your dog ... and just look at the waving grass and the animals,” Jake said.