Getting Wet And Wild In Central Park

Marian Oktoberfest 2011

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- On Wednesday, September 28 the 4th, 5th and 6th grade gifted students from Indiana School made their first trip of the school year to the Wetlands Discovery Center. For the past four years, students from School District 162 have been participating in ME4E’s outdoor classroom programming at the Central Park Wetlands in Park Forest, IL. Amanda Godin, 4th grade teacher at Indiana School, has been utilizing a biodiversity grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help offset some of the cost. “My students leave each wetland visit with more knowledge and appreciation for the magnificent preserve,” states Ms. Godin.

Even though it was raining, the students still went outside and explored the wetlands. Jada a 6th grade student at Indiana School said “It’s a lot of fun even if you are not a fan of the outdoors.” The new Wetlands Discovery Center allowed the students to take notes about the history of the area, determine current plant and animal species, looked at watershed maps and reviewed the day’s events without getting their journals soggy. Many students had rain ponchos and rubber boots, preparing them for their trip. “Even though you get dirty and you don’t like to, you are helping to change the world and make it a better place,” states Jonaie, who is also a 6th grader.

This is the third year in a row for many of the 6th grade students in Ms. Cheryl Rasmussen’s class. A donation of native plants was made to ME4E from the University of Chicago and Rasmussen’s class was able to plant three flats of switchgrass on this visit. Afterwards they were asked about their experience. “After planting for two years it’s fun to see the results,” says Joli and her classmate Jyran said “It’s fun and it taught me a lot about nature and the outdoors. I like seeing the progression from when I was in 4th grade. I recommend it for everyone.” Even Jessica enjoyed her experience saying, “We got to help the wetlands by planting plants and we saw some bugs, fish and slugs.”

All three classes will be returning to the wetlands two more times this school year along with several school visits from ME4E. If you are interested in checking out the Wetlands Discovery Center, ME4E is hosting an Open House on October 22 from 10 am – 3pm. They will have the IDNR loan kits, energy bike, Field Packs and more on display for the entire family to enjoy. You can also view some of the work theses and other students have completed. Taylor said it best, “You should come out because no matter how old you are you will have tons of fun!”