BEDMINSTER TWP. – An outdoor education program established by the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) during pandemic-related school closings in 2020 is now boosted by a charitable grant.
The Robert and Toni Bader Charitable Foundation awarded the RHA $ 5,000 to pay for new equipment and an updated curriculum for the “Nature Days” outdoor learning program for children.
“It’s really exciting to get this grant and make Nature Days even better for kids,” said Lauren Theis, RHA Director of Education.
Nature Days was created at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when local schools were closed and students were receiving distance education. The idea was to complement distance learning with in-person outdoor training at Fairview Farm, the RHA’s 170-acre wildlife preserve in Bedminster. The program was based on offers from popular RHA summer camps.
Nature Days took off as many local parents wanted their children to spend time away from their computers and socialize with their peers in the great outdoors. The sessions were held outdoors and the children wore masks and maintained social distancing.
Although students are now back in their classrooms full-time for the 2021-2022 school year, the RHA has chosen to continue Nature Days as an after-school enrichment program.
Thanks to a grant from the Bader Charitable Foundation, she will be able to purchase new picnic tables and children’s classroom furniture, an outdoor play kitchen, and science equipment like enlarged portable petri dishes known as viewers. of creatures.
“Now we’ll have enough for every child in the class to have one,” Theis said.
The grant will also allow Theis to revamp the Nature Days program and schedule to meet the needs of students juggling studies, sports and other extracurricular activities.
The Spring 2022 session of Nature Days, she said, will focus on seasonal themes such as spring birds, amphibian migration, animal life cycles, ephemeral spring flowers, planting of ‘a garden, seed propagation, hiking and nature logging.
Theis said she was delighted to resume school trips to Fairview Farm for the first time since the pandemic struck in March 2020.
“We are really delighted to welcome all the children back – we missed it,” she said.
The RHA’s mission is to protect, preserve and enhance the Upper Raritan River region through science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship.
Nature Days are designed to help children better appreciate the environment and help them understand what they can do to protect it. The program teaches children to “think globally while acting locally” and encourages them to take care of the region’s natural resources and ecosystems.
In 2022, Nature Days will run for several weeks throughout each season, providing children with the opportunity to learn outdoors all year round. Nature Days ran at full capacity during its pilot year, demonstrating the need for outdoor education.
The program is aimed at children in Kindergarten to Grade 5 and offers science and art activities, while incorporating other disciplines such as writing, reading, and physical education.