Monday, March 23, 2009

Debra Mann's Class at Selah

Colleen Gardner, Executive Director of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve, writes:

Science teacher and good friend of Selah (and new Education Advisor to Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve), Debra Mann, has been bringing out her senior classes for a 5 day science-based field trip to Selah for more than 7 years now. These groups of young thinkers have always impressed us at Selah – they are articulate, sensitive, deep thinkers who also come with many talents, such as musical instruments, or in this year’s case, a young lady who performs dance-like movements hanging from tall objects with silk scarves. Until this year, the students have visited in October, but this year they tried a new season: early spring, the first week of March. Typically each year’s class will do insect studies, plant surveys and a hybrid study of Post Oaks and Black Jack Oaks, but, because this visit occurred so early in the spring, leaves, flowers and insects were hard to come by.

Added to their seasonal challenge of finding oak leaves and butterflies, was that their visit coincided with Margaret’s last week with us. The students and their teachers were intimately aware of Margaret’s daily decline and the grieving that the Selah staff had to endure, while still trying to be good naturalist-hosts. Rather than having a pall over their week, these students all embraced the circle of life, surrounded evidence of drought and death with fresh spring greens, and migrating bird calls indicating new life and new beginnings. The students had fabulous nature writings over the course of their stay and in the last conversation I had with Margaret, I told her that we had 22 of the most fabulous young naturalists running all up and down the hills with butterfly nets and binoculars and that she would be so proud of the legacy she helped start. She smiled and said “I am proud.”

“Hello World”
Hello World! (my voice echoed through the hilltops and crevices around me)
Here I am, and there you are.
You are much bigger than I, no doubt,
except somehow, when I climb you,
I feel so powerful.
Thanks for lending yourself to me,
I am quite comfortable in my spot
next to the big rock.
Your vastness amazes me.
These hills are covered with grasses
and trees,
with life and with death.
These hills and slopes are my ladder
to the sky, and I can almost touch the clouds.
The cows come too,
though I don’t think they understand
where they are.
The land is thirsty,
I feel as if everything I touch I will break,
except for the big, strong rocks,
and of course, I trust you dear Earth,
to not crack beneath my feet.
Look at how time has tried to wear you down, Earth,
but you have still prevailed,
and continued to rise up.
You are a wonderous home to many things.
Sunlight, please do not go away,
You are the only thing keeping me warm,
And I would like to stay out much longer.

Elise – AWS class of 2009

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