Ranger-led educational exploration

“ If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who will share with him the joy, excitement, and wonder of the world we live in.”– Rachael Carson

Yaquina Head ONA apprentices and trainer Roy Simpson after a long rainy mock trial of the educational program. (Photo by Samantha Starns)

Yaquina Head’s spring apprentices finally arrived, Sam, Hannah, and Meagan! Along that, is the start of Yaquina Head ONA’s education program  for students K-12. All of us had an intensive weeklong training on the three lessons we will offer during the Spring and summer. The lessons are centered on discovering the intertidal, “Between a Rock and a Wet Place” for  the primary grades, “Sea-Crets of the Tidepools” for 4th-5th grade, and “Wealthy Tide Pools” for 6th-8th grade.  Each is aimed at understanding, building appreciation and stewarship  of the resources of Yaquina Head Outstanding Area and Oregon’s Rocky Shore and  each lesson  involves a cognitive, affective, and psychomotor aspect to achieve this.

During training we explored different styles and ideas of environmental education, we examined the different learning domains, the need for promoting paradigm shifts about conserving natural resources, verbal judos, and the different tools and techniques to  use when carrying out the programs. Inquiry-based learning was one of our main focus, we had a lot of discussion on this and we practiced how to facilitate a lesson using inquiry .

Overall, training was fun and informative. Some of the best parts were visiting the Hatfield Marine Science Center where we got the chance to take a close look at the critters that live in the tide pools.  We learned a lot about species-specific behavior and adaptation. One of the most amazing to watch was the reaction of a clam in response to the presence of a sunflower star. Once the clam felt threatened, it would open up and its foot would reach out of the shell and wave rapidly to move away from the predator.

We also visited the Aquarium, where we got the chance to speak with the education coordinator there. She spoke with us about Ocean Literacy and its role in the school system of the county. We had Rob Suryan, a researcher at Oregon State University come speak to us about the birds of  Yaquina Head such as the Common Murres, Pelagic and Brandt’s Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. He went into detail about the research that is taking place which was of great interest for me because I will be helping with some of those studies in a couple of weeks.

Since we are representing Yaquina Head and BLM , we also learned about the history of BLM  and the multi-agency management the outstanding natural area we work in and its surroundings. It was interesting to find that BLM, USFW, Oregon State Parks, NOAA, and ODFW, all work together to help protect this area.

The other apprentices and I are now ready to begin the programs and we will start with a big audience of 100 students in 5th grade next Friday. We will split into smaller groups and lead all the activities, we are both nervous and eager to do so.

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