Across the fall, students at Indian Township’s After-School Programs have been out in the surrounding forests and fields exploring with the Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s (DLLT) Nature Club.
Starting in early October, students crafted their own nature journals to record their explorations, both during the program and for their own independent nature inquiries. DLLT Education and Communications Manager, Tanya Rucosky, then led students on weekly thematic adventures. Students prowled the leaf-liter of the near-by woods looking for arachnids, insects, myriapods and terrestrial crustaceans. “A lot of the kids had never gone looking for bugs before. They were a little intimidated.” said Rucosky, “However, they gained a new appreciation for the diversity and elegance of some of the smaller denizens of our forests.”
Another blustery day found students hunting for wild foods. Before even leaving the school yard, students sampled clover, pineapple weed, wood sorrel, dandelion greens, rose hips, hawthorn berries and wild plums. Retiring to the cafeteria, students warmed up with a specialty common in boreal and transitional forests–chaga. “I love the chaga, can we have some more!” said numerous students, undeterred by the chaga mycelium mass’s dark, hard and globular appearance.
“Kids are often bolder than grown-ups,” said Rucosky, pouring refills of the steaming spiced drink made from tree fungus, and tipping in cream. “They are focused on what is really important– that chaga tastes great! Never mind that there is a growing body of scientific literature outlining its medicinal qualities.”
Throughout the autumn, students learned to identify trees by their leaves, played predator-prey games, created their own original art works on the landscape, and explored animal behavior using drama. Their adventures wrapped up as they gathered seeds, sticks, feathers and leaves to create their own small nature people.
The DLLT regularly hosts speakers, school programs, community forums, work parties, workshops and leads outdoor adventures that highlight the natural and cultural history of the Maine woods and waters. To schedule a free school program, visit our website to discover what is happening next!