Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teaching the Next - and the Current - Generation

Colleague, friend and Cub Scout Pack leader Dr. Robin E. demonstrating how tuliptree seeds disperse
On Sunday afternoon (January 27), I co-led a walk with a friend and colleague, Dr. Robin E., for a pack of Cub Scouts.  Robin is the Cub Scout Pack leader.  She wanted to familiarize the Scouts with forest ecology, and to introduce the kids to an old-growth forest.

A nest in a spicebush.  The Scouts weren't impressed.
The Scouts were accompanied by their mothers and, in a few cases, by their young siblings.  There was a lot of roughhousing and youthful exuberance, but Robin managed to get the kids to focus when she really wanted them to.  Being personally childless and not having the experience of corralling a bunch of 6- and 7-year-olds, I was better at interacting with the mothers.

Trekking through the semi-snowy woods
When we got to the old-growth woods (a 7-acre plot about 250 years old), the mothers were suitably impressed by the soaring tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera) and the largest and oldest tree in the woods, a massive black oak (Quercus velutina).  The Scouts were more impressed with the humble clone of bladdernuts (Staphylea trifolia) growing on the streambank below the forest; the bladdernuts produce a papery tripartite pod with seeds that rattle around inside when shaken.

At the base of the largest tuliptree in the woods
On the way back to the parking lot, one of the mothers turned to me and said, "The best part of the walk was learning about the structure of the forest - the canopy, the understory, the shrubs, and the ground plants.  See; I was listening to you!" 

Everyone got something out of our foray.

Heading back across the grasslands
Finally, two miscellaneous, unrelated images:

The well behind my residence.  I'm sure it's the house's original well, but the stonework's been replaced.
Our version of The Spiral Jetty (the original sculpture is in the Great Salt Lake)


packrat said...

I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, Scott, so I can appreciate what was going on out there. It's nice to see traditions carry on.

Scott said...

Were you an Eagle Scout, Packrat?

When I told one of my employees who also has had dealings with Cub and Boy Scouts that I had led a walk for the Cub Scouts last weekend, he said, "They were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, weren't they?" I thought that it was just me, but now I know better.

packrat said...

Never tried for Eagle Scout, Scott. Did you make it?

Jain said...

The kids may have seemed underwhelmed but old growth can't help but impress on some level. Nice comment from the mom, too.

Scott said...

Packrat: I was never a Scout (Cub, Scout, or Eagle). I'm not a joiner.

Scott said...

Jain: At least some of the kids were suitably impressed. At least they weren't home playing a video game on a nice Sunday afternoon.

robin andrea said...

It sounds like a great educational experience for everyone! I'm sure the kids will remember it for a very long time. Long walks in the woods have a way of sticking with you. Good work!

Scott said...

Thanks for your comment, Robin Andrea, but you've got more confidence in the ability of kids to retain memories and impressions of the woods than I do. Nevertheless, it certainly couldn't have hurt, could it?