Nature Center's open house informs area educators of free resources

Monday, August 20, 2007
The third annual Educator Open House was held Friday at the Nature Center. Resources are available for teachers each day the Nature Center is open. Pictured seated was Amanda Schafer, a Perryville, Mo., homeschool educator; behind her was Bridget Jackson, conservation educational consultant. (Submitted photo)

The third annual Educator Open House held recently at the Cape Gir­ardeau Conservation Nature Center. was an opportunity for teachers to become familiar with all the resources the center has to offer.

Conservation educational consultant Bridget Jackson named the three best things the Nature Center had to offer educators: lesson plans, grants and discovery trunks. But she had three more reasons: the educator resource room, Nature Center staff and habitat packs.

Finding lesson plans suitable for her homeschooled children, ages 5 and 6, was why Amanda Schafer of Perryville, Mo., sat by the lateral files evaluating curriculum at the Educator Open House. Although she pays taxes to the local school district, the curriculum from which she teaches must still be purchased. The free resources at the Nature Center help to reduce those costs.

She said she didn't believe people really understood what's being offered at the center. "I absolutely love having it," she said. "This is our science curriculum for this year. With Conservation Seeds we can cover all aspects of science with one curriculum."

Schafer said she comes to the Nature Center in Cape Gir­ar­deau for group activities that work with homeschoolers. "I signed up for a newsletter and heard about the Educator Open House in the Tupelo Times," the Nature Center newsletter, she said.

"Animal cards are another important tool for convenient learning," said Schafer. "They can be cut up and laminated. On the front is the picture and on the back is the information about that animal. These can actually grow with the child."

Detailed information is readily available as students' understanding increases.

Three types of grants are available for prekindergarten to grade 12 public, private or parchochial schools or districts in Missouri: Learning outdoor schools, field trip and outdoor classroom.

Discovery Trunks contain books, hands-on activities, natural items, videos, CDs, posters and curriculum guides ranging from early childhood to the secondary level. This resource has activities that correlate with Show-Me Standards. There are 11 trunk varieties, with some newer trunks including the bat mini-trunk, butterfly mini-trunk and birds. A twelfth Discovery Trunk on American Indians is soon to come.

Habitat packs explain specific habitats while encouraging greater understanding of the importance of conservation. These envelopes provide a variety of materials including CDs, cards and guidelines for managing, maintaining and improving a habitat.

Instructional Education Workshops focus on specific curriculum, habitats, grants, species and more. The next available workshop is "Nature in the Classroom: Primitive Skills," and will be held at the Nature Center Sept. 19. There is a fee for this 5-session class. Attendance, completion and documentation of required work results in one Southeast Missouri State University college credit.

The Educator Resource Room, behind the main reception area in the Nature Center's gift shop, is available to teachers whenever the Nature Center is open.

Those hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The center is closed Mondays and on New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The Educator Resource Room houses vibrant posters, six lateral filing cabinets filled with lesson plans for kindergartners to grade 12, information about Discovery Trunks and field trip, outdoor classroom and learning outdoor schools grants. The lesson plans promote skills for achievement on MAP tests and are all free.

For more information, call Bridget Jackson at 290-5858, extension 300.

335-6611 extension 133

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