My final week in the field was a great conclusion to my time as an AmeriCorps volunteer. The group of students I lead was a fourth grade class from Rock Springs, Wyoming. This was the youngest group of children I have worked with, and also the most exciting to teach. While mostly acting as an observer in field groups before this, it was my week to become the lead instructor. This group was only scheduled for two days in the field, and rain was forecasted for both days.
Our first day began with a soaking rainfall that continued through early afternoon. Instead of getting soggy early on, we filled the morning with indoor activities and a visit to the National Wildlife Art Museum. The museum was a hit among my students, and it gave them a great introduction to the wildlife and plant communities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. After exploring artwork, we decided to brave the weather and hike near the Kelly Campus. The kids were very excited to get outside, but lacked attention spans for teaching much content.
The next day, we woke up to beautiful blue skies and warm weather. I centered our day around exploring as much as possible while wrapping the concepts of adaptation in to our discoveries. I was prepared with several activities to prompt their exploration, but as we began our hike I quickly noticed my groups enthusiasm for exploring on their own. I could feel an energy within this group that I had not felt among others. We were constantly discovering animal tracks, scat, and carcasses. My role became the question master and leader of science inquiry. It almost became a task of keeping them moving, while every step they took lead them to a new discovery. Later in the afternoon, I facilitated a solo sit combined with sound mapping. My students thrived in this activity and were begging me for more time. While debriefing the solo sit, I discovered that each student revealed a creative side I had not seen before. One student wrote a poem about how he felt while listening to the sounds of nature. A second student illustrated sounds of birds and droplets of water in ways that were beyond my imagination. After hearing the different ways that the students engaged themselves in their time alone, I knew how important my role as an instructor was to them. I provided them with knowledge and an eagerness for further exploration of the great outdoors.