“This is the best part of the field trip!” exclaimed Marcus as Katie wrapped up the nature walk around the Hidden Homes Trail.

Just an hour earlier, this sixth-grade student was complaining about having to go on a walk.

Katie gathered the class near the spotting scopes on the Hidden Homes Trail at the River Center. She handed out binoculars and gave instructions on how to use them. Right away she could hear grumbling from some of the students. Recognizing that her planned nature walk was probably not going to work, Katie shifted her approach to encourage the students to explore in a less structured way.

Students began pointing out plants, turtles on the pond, and white egrets. They asked questions about what they were seeing along the trail.

Several students including Marcus went ahead of the larger group, searching for wildlife clues on the trail. Suddenly they stopped.

“KATIE, WHAT IS THAT?” Marcus yelled.

The group caught up to Marcus and gathered to see what he had found. Standing in the middle of the trail was a large insect with black stripes across its abdomen. Katie, being unfamiliar with the species pulled out her phone and did a search.

It’s a Jerusalem cricket,” she shared. She also provided a few facts about the insect.

Now the students had a name for the creature they were investigating. And instead of the typical reaction to smash the insect, the class formed two lines and helped usher the cricket off the trail.

Katie led the class to the end of the trail and thanked them for being such wonderful explorers. What started out as a difficult group ended up being Katie’s favorite class of the day. And everyone, including her, learned something new.

Thank you for making exploration of the Parkway possible for everyone.