Representatives of the New River Gorge Chapter of West Virginia Master Naturalists and the New River Gorge National River teamed up last week to provide outdoor education programming to Camp Drift-a-Bit participants. Camp Drift-a-Bit is a summer camp hosted and created by the New River Gorge Learning Co-op.

National Park Ranger Jodi French-Burr and New River Gorge Master Naturalist Coordinator Keith Richardson joined forces to present outdoor education to the enthusiastic group of students. Activities included nature journaling, “Leave No Trace” ethics, birding, plant ID, trees, a hike, and a scavenger hunt.

“A good time was had by all,” Richardson said, as he recollected on the day. “The purpose of spending time in the outdoors and providing environmental education to folks young and old is summed up in a quotation paraphrased from Aldo Leopold: ‘Until we see the land as a community to which we belong rather than a commodity to own, we will continue to destroy ourselves.’ We are introducing people to that community.”

Mike Micucci, a teacher at the co-op and an adult counselor for the camps, said the day was “a fun, immersive, learning-in-nature experience. Our students learned about environmental stewardship, being observational and present in nature, flora and fauna identification, and use of observational tools, and very much enjoyed a tour of the boardwalk at the visitor’s center.”

Also joining the group was adult counselor Amber Jaxon and junior counselors Edan Maxwell and Ava Curtis.

“I’d recommend this for any group of children who are lucky enough to be in the New River Gorge area,” Micucci emphatically stated.

“It is amazing to witness that moment when nature lights a spark in someone’s eyes — especially when it’s a kid, a sense of wonder we can all find when exploring nature!” French-Burr said. “Our adventure in the national park let us all be part of the experience, from the discovery of a butterfly chrysalis, a snake, or simply looking at the great diversity of tree bark, to discussions on ‘Leave No Trace’ outdoor ethics. These students also took that learning to that next level, journaling to write down their own observations of nature. Remember what Carl Sagan once said: ‘Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known.’ These students are this wonderful case in point!”

For more information on the NRG Chapter of Master Naturalists, please visit its website at www.newrivergorgemasternaturalist.org.

There are more opportunities for kids to join in the fun this summer. For more information or to register for Camp Drift-a-Bit, contact Veronica Crosier at veronica.crosier@nrglc.org.

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