by Katie Wolpert
In June, Experience Learning instructors Sara Dorsey and Nick Muehlbauer spent a day with 7-13 year olds at the Wardensville Garden Market’s STREAM summer camp. The campers were learning about pollinators that week so we led them through a Field Sampling and practiced using the scientific method.
Honey bees, the old apis mellifera, have the highest profile as pollinators these days but in reality they are one of thousands of insects that assist with this vital job. Over this one day with the kids we would capture, examine, identify, study, and then release as many species of these as possible.
First the group developed a hypothesis about where in the field they expected to find different types and amounts of insects. Then they drew insect nets through the grass and collected specimens using habitat transect methods. Once collected, the kids started to become familiar with the insects they collected by examining and illustrating them.
“Many of the kids were squeamish at first,” lead instructor Sara Dorsey said, “but then they got into it. Our goal was to get them interested and comfortable collecting insects.”
By illustrating the insects, focusing on the obvious features, the group was able to identify many specific species and test their hypothesis.
Much of the programming we carry out is organized directly through Experience Learning so this Field Day with the Wardensville Garden Market was a great example of other ways that our instructors get to work their magic. Our neighborhood in and around Pendleton County is composed of a fairly widespread network of very small towns, organizations and projects. When we are able to step in to help step up each others’ programs, everyone benefits.
The Wardensville Garden Market encompasses much more than what is described in its name. The market, farm, and bakery serve as an education and career incubator for local kids. The organization trains kids to start or run a small business, manage a farm, start a career and prepare to attend college. We were excited to be involved in this process and share our love and respect for the wild world that surrounds us. Our Spruce Knob campus is a special place but the lessons we teach are applicable everywhere. And it is good for us to get down off the mountain from time to time!