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Youngsters learn first-hand about nature in Fort Frederick State Park Junior Ranger Program

July 18, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Caroline Schnebly, 8, of Clear Spring, readies herself Tuesday for exploring and learning about fossils at Fort Frederick State Park with the help of naturalist Charlie Sullivan.
By Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer

A group of youngsters this week has been learning first-hand about nature, from the weather to river runoff, as participants in the Fort Frederick State Park Junior Ranger Program.

On Tuesday, they were studying fossils, digging up what they could find and learning how to extract fossils from rocks.

Emma Schnebly, 10, of Clear Spring said that she enjoyed the experiments and looking for fossils.

“There’s so much fun stuff to do,” she said. “It’s cool projects, but it’s explaining something to you so you learn something.”

Six youngsters between the ages of 8 and 12 are enrolled in the program at the state park this week, which began Monday and runs through Friday at the Nature Center.

The program also has a weeklong Sprouts program for children ages 4 to 7 that took place in June.

Andrew Fleming, 9, of Mercersburg, Pa., is in his third year in the program.

“I just like doing nature things outside,” he said. “I like that we get to do fossils and see animals.”

Connor Rohm, 9, of Greencastle, Pa., said that he likes exploring nature because “there’s so many things to learn.”

“I really like the Nature Center because it has rocks, fossils, bird claws, shells of turtles, bird feathers, and it’s just really cool,” he said.

The camp is lead by Park Naturalist Charles Sullivan and Seasonal Ranger Amanda Carbaugh.

Sullivan said that Earth science is the theme for the program this week.

“We decided we would give the children a nice dose of geology, astronomy, meteorology, and Potomac River studies,” he said. “It’s a little more science-oriented than some of our science programs.”

He said that the campers are gaining experience in scientific methods such as excavating fossils, and how a geologist would go about doing it.

“Earth science is really important because everything’s shaped by the climate, and we’re living in a time of global climate change,” Sullivan said. “This weather is getting more extreme and more intense, and I think it’s really important to make young people aware of that, and they’re going to have to deal with it because it’s getting hotter and hotter.”

Carbaugh said that it is important to teach the children about the environment.

“What we want to do is get children to enjoy being outside and away from technology,” she said. “We also want to teach them how we can preserve our natural resources so that everybody will have a chance to enjoy them in the future.”

The campers also talked about the importance of nature.

Anna Grace Fleming, 10, of Clear Spring said that it is important for everybody her age to learn about nature.

“They’ll learn to take care of nature, and it’s really cool to know about it,” she said.

The Junior Ranger Program takes place at parks across the state of Maryland throughout the summer. Junior Rangers explore the parks’ natural and historical areas, and receive patches at the end of the program, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.state.md.us.

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