Winter Doesn’t Stop Students from Dipping Into Creeks
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by Beth Etgen, UCCS Vice President – Education

“Wow! I never knew that creeks could be homes
for so many kinds of animals.”

“I get it, a creek food web sticks everything
together.”

“Water bugs look like monsters.”

“I‘ve seen junk in the creek near our house and
it looks ugly.”

These were some of the comments made by Jeannie Courters’ third grade students as
they were happily engaged in learning more about the importance of creek life and
habitats.

On January 16th, 2007, Beth Etgen of the Effie Yeaw Nature Center (EYNC) and
assistant Susan Atkinson presented the first “Dipping Into Creeks in the Classroom”
program at Carriage Elementary School in Citrus Heights. One of the highlights of the
program is a wonderful creek costume made by EYNC staff member, Libby Harmor. On
this day, Jasmine was the lucky volunteer chosen to wear the creek cape as the group
discussed what makes a healthy creek. Realistic fabric models of plants, fish, insects,
amphibians and mammals were added to the cape while discussion reinforced the
concepts of interdependence and food webs.

Colorful slides brought the outdoors into the classroom by showing sites along
several Sacramento County creeks, both healthy and in need of restoration. Students saw
examples of erosion, trash and flooding while discussing simple ways to restore creeks as
beneficial components of the community. The students also saw aerial view slides of
local creeks flowing into the larger watershed system.

The kids loved the group stations. They were excited to work in smaller groups while
continuing to focus on creek ecology. Favorites were “Creek Life Bingo,” “Invertebrate
Concentration,” the “I Care For Creeks” game and making a take-home creek food chain.
One enthusiastic girl thanked us for bringing all the “cool stuff” to her classroom and
asked when we would be back.

A grant from the Sacramento Chapter of Urban Creeks Council allowed the Effie
Yeaw Nature Center to develop the “Dipping Into Creeks in the Classroom” program for
students in 2nd through 4th grades. This program uses local creeks as an ideal focus for
learning through experiential environment-based education. Research and classroom-
based studies show that students learn better, are better citizens at school, and transfer
their learning to new situations better in environment-based education programs.

For more information about scheduling a classroom presentation at your school,
please call the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at 489-4918 ext. 237.

This article originally appeared in our Winter 2007 Newsletter

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