By: Steven Sticht – 2018 Student Conservation Association’s New Hampshire AmeriCorps Member
Birds singing, squirrels scurrying, streams thawing and trailheads emerging from the snow – these are all things that people love about the changing season – even if it takes a while for it to get here. As expected, spring has taken its time to fully arrive here at Bear Brook (we just got a dusting of snow not too long ago) and everyone is antsy for cold winter nights to be replaced by sunny spring days. We aren’t just anticipating the change of the seasons, but also the switching of the Bear Brook experience all together. Throughout the last 3 months the Bear Brookers have been in the schools educating K-5 students of Manchester, Concord, and surrounding towns. Now they are on the last week of teaching and trying to make a long-lasting impression on the children who could be the future conservationists that work to protect this country’s state and national parks.
Everyone is quite bummed to say goodbye to education season and the children they’ve had the chance to teach for the last 9 weeks. However, they’re also trying to make the best of it. For the final week, the majority of teaching groups have taught their lessons on the principles of Leave No Trace, which have included several different approaches. For example, some groups brought in their backpacking gear and showed the children what type of equipment is important to bring into the woods with them. This could range from basic survival equipment such as a daypack with water, a compass, and a map to more complex backpacking gear like a first aid kit, sleeping bag, tents and other useful equipment.
Another activity that teaching teams included for their last lesson was the creation of a mural of the Earth Steward pledge which incorporated parts of previous lessons. After students completed the mural, they had the chance to hang it up in the classroom, so they could remember the Earth Steward pledge.
To care about the world around me
To investigate and explore the world around me
To share my learning and do service
to make the world around me a better place for plants, animals and people
I carry this commitment with me always
I am an Earth Steward!
One thing has been certain; even with the great diversity in the types of lessons taught by each teaching team, the overall message has been consistent. It’s simple; the world is an incredibly fascinating place and exploring and learning about it is the only way these students will discover what it means to them. They also learn that in order to keep it as an amazing place, they must respect it like they respect their homes.
As spring approaches, wildlife starts to appear more frequently at Bear Brook, and we are fortunate enough to share a home with the wildlife around us as they begin to start a new year. In many ways, we are doing the same things as we prepare and head towards the second part of our program.
For Conservation and Interpretive seasons, we will split our numbers as 10 interpretive rangers, and 19 Conservation Stewards. Conservation Stewards will be trained in trail work and carpentry to do conservation projects in different state parks throughout New Hampshire. Interpretive Rangers will go out to state parks for the next 6 months delivering educational programs. The best way to describe this feeling of transition is picturing a squirrel coming out after a long winter and being able to roam around freely for the first time in many months. There is a mixture of excitement and readiness to move forward along our own separate goals, and also an anticipation to grow more as leaders in our communities and within the conservation world. The next several months of training, long days, and hard work will both be some of the hardest challenges we have faced but also be some of the most rewarding work we’ve gotten the chance to do. As spring arrives to this amazing state park, it begins to grow and change again and in many ways the residents of this year’s SCA NH AmeriCorps program will follow in the same footsteps as we begin to grow as well.
So as spring brings forward new growth and lovely sunny days, it will also leave behind the calmness and ease of the winter months. So even though the snow is melting and making way for spring to come, we will never forget the memorable moments and the quietness of the snowy winter months here at Bear Brook State Park.