Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Naturalist Program at Ecorse Elementary School
Midwest Region, October 29, 2019
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Students looked at examples of nature journals and talked about the benefits of keeping a journal.
Students looked at examples of nature journals and talked about the benefits of keeping a journal. - Photo Credit: USFWS

Refuge staff kicked off a new program at the Bunche Elementary School in Ecorse, Michigan on October 29th. Ecorse is a small city located to the south of Detroit and along the Detroit River. The city has a riverfront that overlooks Mud Island, the northern most unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The city is small, full of spirit, and a quick drive to the refuge visitor center. The new program involves visits to every second and third grade classroom each month, with fieldtrips to the refuge in the spring, and a goal for programming to expand in the future.

The first visit is introductory. Students learn about naturalists and meet refuge staff. The goal of the first visit is to explain the concept of being a naturalist; what a naturalist is, and how they as young students connect to nature. They learn the “tools of a naturalist," as well as how they themselves are already naturalists. The program includes hands-on resources the students can touch and connect with on a personal level. A box of local animal scat brought squeals of excitement and humorous disgust that refuge staff can only hope turns into conversation at local dinner tables in the evening. While second and third graders are as much eager to share stories, as they are to ask questions, the programming flies by with wishes that there was more time to visit and share the joy of nature! Staff is looking forward to a year full of wonder and learning.

Contact Info: Jennifer Braatz, 734-288-6459, jennifer_braatz@fws.gov
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