SAN ANTONIO, Texas – In celebration of Earth Day this year, employees from the U.S. Army Environmental Command hosted a Kindergarten Nature Walk to teach 140 kindergarten students from the Fort Sam Houston Elementary School about nature and wildlife at seven hands-on learning stations at Salado Creek Park on May 6.
The hands-on learning stations, sporting names such as Skins and Skulls, Horns and Antlers, and Archaeology, were run by some of the Army’s top experts in their fields.
“Encouraging kids to become interested in science at this age is such a value,” said Kelly Norwood, a geologist. “Even if they don’t become scientists themselves, they will start their science learning with a positive outlook and interest."
Norwood and Scott Weber, also a geologist, ran the Geology station where children had an opportunity to mine for rocks and fossils.
“For me personally, I love to show the girls that we girls like to play in the dirt too," said Norwood.
Weber said many of the children were already quite knowledgeable about geography and were often able to identify the sample rocks and fossils.
“We need to teach kids an appreciation for the environment,” said Weber. “We also need to work together to improve the environment and be good stewards of what we have a responsibility to protect and preserve for future generations.”
The U.S. Army Environmental Command is officially partnered with the school through the Fort Sam Houston Adopt-A-School Program.
According to the USAEC Commander, Col. Alicia M. Masson, the partnership between the two organizations focuses on supporting the school’s science curriculum.
“We want to help foster future scientists by supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based activities such as today’s nature walk or the school’s annual career days,” said Masson. “They give our scientists the opportunity to share with students their knowledge of the environmental sciences and a genuine love of lifelong discovery. My hope is that today’s activities will have an impact on the children’s academic accomplishments down the road.”
Bill Miller, an entomologist, said the event was important to him because he has a passion for teaching. He also said it is important for children to understand that there are both good and bad insects and spiders.
“I think too many kids look at science and believe it’s too hard for them, but where there is interest, there is learning,” said Norwood. “Kids who love science will grow up better able to understand and improve the world around them.”