As someone who has been teaching in the field of Environmental Education for over six years, and a life-long “kid” that loves nature, I truly enjoy getting to share my passion for nature with those around me. Since I began working at Sheep Pasture this year, I have already seen the importance of a place like this on the students we teach. We have the amazing opportunity to let them observe nature…while being a part of it! They can watch birds fly over our fields, roll logs and look for bugs, see tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates in our stream and marsh, and see our farm animals close up. All of these experiences can have a profound impact on their love and respect for nature.
While hiking our trails a few days ago-on one of the few sunny days as of lately-I found myself looking at nature not as teacher or naturalist but someone who was excited to see nature showing off. The wild buttercups in the field were blooming. The tree swallows were flying around like miniature airplanes. Even the frogs were croaking their songs. I felt so lucky and fortunate that I get to share this with the students I teach. I have the chance to share my passion and energy with kids of all ages hoping that it can spread not only to them, but to their family and friends as well when they share out about their visit.
When we teach at Sheep Pasture, we try to spark that same excitement I felt while hiking in all of our students. How great is it you can come and see a cow or sheep? You can walk on the trails and see a few gnome homes. You can sit at the bird blind and see and hear unique birds and their calls. While these may not seem like major events to us, to a child or student they may be something that connects them to nature. These events can hopefully turn into a self-driven desire to learn more about plants and animals, and the connections we have with them.
At the end of the day, we can teach them everything we know about rocks or butterflies or food webs, but they are more than likely going to remember feeding a chicken, seeing a red-tailed hawk soaring in the sky, or having a sheep walk to the side of the fence and bleat at them. They are going to remember how much fun they had and how Ms. Kirstie, Ms. Katy, and Mr. Nathan got to hang out with them all day. I think that is a perfect day for someone that will soon become the next generation of teachers, parents, naturalists, scientists, politicians, and world changers.
For those that don’t know me…Hello! I’m Nathan, the part time preschool teacher/naturalist here at Sheep Pasture. I’m originally from Indiana but have been living in New England for 10 years. I have been teaching for about 8 years in formal, informal, and camp settings. Working with preschool and elementary students has always been my favorite, but found teaching in a traditional classroom and teaching all the various subjects wasn’t quite for me. I have gained unique experiences working with various populations through my teaching of school programs and overnight scout programs at an AZA accredited zoo, teaching at a sleep-away summer camp, and completing two years of the AmeriCorps National and Community Service program. I am looking forward to teaching the preschool Kneehigh Nature Adventures this summer! Please feel free to contact me if you ever have any preschool questions or are looking for Sheep Pasture to come visit your school, preschool, or daycare at firstname.lastname@example.org.