By Lauren Platman, Education & Development Specialist
Saturday, October 28th could not have been a better day. Hundreds of kids roamed the library seeking out clues to how birds and bats differed; they listened to the sounds of different owls and puzzled over which coo was made by whom; and they learned from local experts about the raptors and bats that also call our region home. It was an amazing way to end this season of Learning on the Land.
For the last three years, Learning on the Land has grown to be a community affair. This year, we are proud to say that over 1,700 community members joined us on our 24 outings this season — our highest attendance yet.
When we first designed the Learning on the Land series, we thought it would attract all types of community members: families, young adults, retirees, you name it. This, however, was not the case. After the first two years, the majority of our attendees were largely adults 50 and over. Our tallies were missing all the young families we dreamed of serving.
After an internal assessment, we discovered our program model did not work well for families.We were missing the mark in terms of location, flexibility, and time. So, we created Nature Kids.
Nature Kids is an educational series dedicated to encouraging children to explore, play, learn about and take action for nature.
This year we held three days of Nature Kids at the Walla Walla Public Library. In June, we hosted the Nature Kids: Children’s Environmental Fair in partnership with the Umatilla National Forest, the Sustainable Living Center, and the Walla Walla Public Library. It was a two-day affair with nature-related activities that would inspire curiosity and creativity. It was a wild success, so we decided to do it again this past October.
In all, roughly 900 kids and parents enjoyed a day, or three, at the library exploring the natural history of the Pacific Northwest.
For 2018, we intend to expand Nature Kids and host programs throughout the summer. The program will be designed for kids to engage in unstructured play and investigation to fully explore the natural world.
We hope you will join us!