Wonders of nature

April 16, 2001

Wonders of nature


Taking a water sample

Above: Waynesboro Area Middle School seventh-graders from left, Tyler Provard, Michael Mishler and Eric Kinley measure a stream water sample at Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies in Waynesboro, Pa.Yankauer Nature Preserve

Above: Kristine O'Brien, right, a nature tour guide, points out poison ivy to the Environmental Eagles group, which toured Yankauer Nature Preserve in Bedington, W.Va.

Below: Chelsea Trefethen, left, reads aloud a plaque along a trail at Yankauer Nature Preserve in Bedington, W.Va., to fellow Environmental Eagles Ana Ristovic, Anissa Myers, Erica Miller and nature tour guide Kirstine O'Brien.




staff photographer

Environmental Eagles

Creeks, parks and nature trails provide more than fun for youth - they offer living lessons on the importance of nature.


"The water must be clean or most of our resources are going to die," said Jimmy Frazer, 13. He was among a group of seventh-graders from Waynesboro Area Middle School studying water samples collected from a creek at Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies in Waynesboro, Pa.

Through a two-week program created by Shippensburg University students Tom Bradley, 25, and Kristyn Gallagher, 22, students from Waynesboro Area Middle School learned about watershed protection.

What is a watershed?

"A place that has water and goes to all sorts of places," said seventh-grader Jennifer Baer, 13.

"We learned about the pollution in the water," Jennifer said.

At Renfrew, the students measured the pH, nitrate, phosphate and dissolved oxygen levels of samples from the creek.

In a mapping exercise, Jessica Whitlock, 13, also a seventh-grader, said she learned the Potomac River watershed was bigger than she thought.

"I learned not to spray pesticides," said classmate David Eacho, 13. He said if pesticides run off into water, they can hurt aquatic life.

Envirothon preparation

At some area schools, students are preparing for Envirothons - environmental education programs that test knowledge of natural resources and environmental sciences. Teams of five students are quizzed on topics such as wildlife, soil, forestry, aquatics and pollution.

"That's the whole key, the awareness," said Kathy Seiler, who teaches reading and study skills at Waynesboro Area Senior High School and is an adviser to students preparing for the Franklin/Fulton County Envirothon. "If you get the kids interested, they come back year after year."

The ninth- through 12th-grade students meet about once a week after school to study, sometimes with the help of school faculty members.

"I like the soils and what you can do with it," said Fay Carbaugh, 17, a junior at Waynesboro Area Senior High School who is participating in her second Envirothon. One lesson she learned is that some soils can't support wells, an important consideration for home builders.

Andrew Misher, 17, also a junior at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, is preparing for his first Envirothon. He said science is one of his favorite subjects, and he's no stranger to the great outdoors.

"I hunt and fish, and I'm sort of into it already," said Andrew, who is considering a career in natural resources and wildlife management.

"I really didn't know all these insects existed," Andrew said after a lesson on water bugs from Dan Ireland, who teaches macrobiology and 10th-grade biology at Waynesboro High.

An environmental resource management class at Boonsboro High School has prepared senior Thomas Grams for the Washington County Envirothon today at Fairview Outdoor Education Center in Clear Spring.

"I know more about wildlife than anything else," said Thomas, 17, who has hunted since he was a boy. He defends the sport by saying some animals ruin crops and that hunting helps control their populations.

"I like to get out there in the woods and watch animals," said Brandon Bussard, 14, a ninth-grader at Boonsboro High who likes to hunt and fish.

The Boonsboro High teams meet every other week at the beginning of the school year, then once a week for the month before the county Envirothon.

Seeing people throw trash out their car windows is "kind of sick when you think about it," said Delta Fraley, 17, a senior at Boonsboro High. She got involved with the county Envirothon for the first time last year when some teachers encouraged her.

"I thought it was a pretty good idea," Delta said.

"I find aquatics really neat," said Amanda Campbell, 14, a ninth-grader at Boonsboro High. She said many people who pollute don't realize it hurts animals.

But pollution hurts more than nature.

"They're not only hurting the environment, they're hurting themselves," Thomas said.

Starting young

Environmental education starts early.

Fairview Outdoor Education Center in Clear Spring has programs for children in grades kindergarten through 12, said Principal Carl Stark.

For elementary-school-age children, the center offers

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