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Nature Inquiry Adventures with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists

Posted by Ron Wolford -

On the first day of July we spent our day at Dan Ryan Forest Preserve. We were invited to help with Nature Inquiry Adventures, field trips for school groups, run by Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. This program normally runs throughout the school year while the weather is appropriate, but it will still run occasionally during the summer when summer camps and school groups are still in session.

Master Gardeners arrived early to Dan Ryan Woods to set up groups and supplies for the day. Some Master Gardeners are also Master Naturalists, meaning they are certified to educate the public on environmental topics, along with horticultural ones as well. Students arrived and were broken up into groups by age, and all of a sudden, we were off! The best part of this adventure was the lack of a lesson plan. Inquiry Adventures encourages students to look around them and ask questions, forming a comparative question to investigate. For example, Shelby's group of students compared the differences between water standing in a pool and running water in the stream. Students were able to conduct experiments to compare pH, nitrate, and phosphate levels in the two samples and then present those results to the class.

The most rewarding part of the day was seeing how the Master Gardeners allowed students to ask questions about their surroundings. Master Gardeners would encourage this throughout the day, while asking open-ended questions of the students as well. This was challenging for students, but at the end of the day they took home some information about the world around them and were able to see nature in their own way.

Shelby & Ilana

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