Jamestown, N.Y. – Question: How can Audubon Community Nature Center’s five-member education staff provide an outdoor experience for up to 4,500 schoolchildren this spring?
Answer: With the help of volunteers who have a passionate enthusiasm for sharing nature with children.
Trail guides are essential to the education programming at Audubon. Most often these volunteers lead hour and a half Discovery Walks with PreK-4th grade students visiting on a fieldtrip.
On four Wednesday mornings in April, education staff will teach volunteers how to inspire curiosity about the natural world through age-appropriate activities outdoors. The training will also cover how to work with different ages of children, tips and tricks to keep them on task, fun things to do outside, rainy day plans, and local natural history. Information and skills learned are also useful in other volunteer positions at Audubon.
The 9 a.m. to noon training on Wednesdays, April 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2018, is required for both new and returning trail guide volunteers. It takes place both indoors and out, and an optional BYO lunch follows.
Serving as a trail guide at Audubon is a rewarding opportunity. As one trail guide encouraged, “If you have a little time to volunteer and think you might like to try this, please do. The smiles on the children’s faces will be all the reward and thanks you need.”
Experience with children is helpful, but natural history knowledge is not necessary. For answers to questions or concerns about the requirements, you can call Katie Finch, naturalist and volunteer coordinator, at (716) 569-2345, ext. 25. You can also attend the New Trail Guide Orientation on Wednesday, March 28, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Reservations for the April training are required by Monday, April 2, 2018, and can be made by calling (716) 569-2345 during business hours or online through the Programs page at auduboncnc.org.
Audubon recently received a significant award from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s Patrie-Leamon and Mabel Anderson Funds to support Discovery Walks. The grant helps cover the gap between what the schools can afford to pay and the actual cost of doing the programs, including training volunteers and providing enough trail guides to keep the groups small.
Audubon education programs are funded with support from the Carnahan Jackson Foundation, Jessie Smith Darrah Fund, Holmberg Foundation, Hultquist Foundation, and Lenna Foundation.
To learn more about Audubon field trips and how to schedule them, call (716) 569-2345 or click on “Schools” at auduboncnc.org/ScheduleAProgram.
Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren, Pa. The three-story Nature Center building contains interactive displays, a collection of live animals, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop.
Building hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m. The 600-acre wetland preserve with more than five miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and Liberty, the non-releasable Bald Eagle, can be visited from dawn until dusk daily.
To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 during business hours or visit auduboncnc.org.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible