Audubon Community Nature Center Partners With Ring School To Build Excitement In Students About Nature

Ring Elementary School UPK students, Nina Bochman, Benjamin Potter, Skye Carter, Gabriel Linn and Asher Jacques, listen to Carly Polisoto, Audubon Community Nature Center Winter Seasonal Naturalist, talk about the parts of a dragonfly.

“Does anyone know what comes around in the spring? Insects! said Carly Polisoto, Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) Winter Seasonal Naturalist. “Today we are going to learn more about insects. When we came in last time we talked about mammals. I’m going to talk about how insects are different from mammals.”

Ms. Polisoto visited with prekindergarten students in Jill Anderson’s class talking about “Incredible Insects” as part of a three-day visit at Ring Elementary School. She talked with students about the body parts of an insect: the head, thorax and abdomen and that they have six legs and two antennae. She also read a book, Are you a Dragonfly? and talked about different insects like the beetle, grasshopper and bumblebee. As a fun way to get the younger students involved, she sang songs about insects and let them “become” an insect by flying and crawling around the room.

Naturalists from the Audubon visited with all grade levels giving grade-appropriate presentations on different nature topics. They delve into topics such as: “Deadly Links” (after reviewing the elements in a food chain, students become grasshoppers, shrews, and hawks and discover what happens when pesticides enter a food chain) and “Seven Sleepers” (students learn that very few of the animals in our area hibernate and find out which ones do, and which ones don’t), just to name a few of the many Audubon educational programs.

“My students had an Audubon presentation where they learned about plants and the life cycle of a plant,” said Ring Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jen Goshgarian. “The activities directly relate to our NYS curriculum and to what my students have previously learned about during our Listening and Learning Plants Unit. The lessons Audubon brings to our classes are fantastic. They are engaging, and full of great content about nature. The presenters are great with the children and are very knowledgeable about the topics they discuss. Audubon is a great resource and it’s exciting to have this community partnership.”

Educating students, like the ones at Ring Elementary School, is part of the Center’s mission to build and nurture 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 ways.

“Audubon programs are designed to help students meet NYS learning standards,” said Jennifer Schlick, ACNC program director. “Naturalists consider themselves partners with teachers in delivering quality science education – not just in the classroom, but also in the schoolyard, at parks near the schools, and at Audubon. Naturalists make 15,000 student contacts offsite in Chautauqua County and Warren County schools every year and another 2,000+ at the Nature Center itself.”

For every lesson, the Audubon sends teachers a Curriculum Integration Guide with suggestions for preparing students for the lesson, and ideas for extending the learning, and a Post Visit Activity that teachers can photocopy and use with students after we are gone. In the Jamestown Schools, they strive to see every student twice in the classroom. Additionally, at least one grade level from each school goes to Audubon on a field trip. Some classes walk to the RiverWalk or Allen Park to meet naturalists for an outdoor program. We have also been working with the coordinators of science and ELA to leverage topics students might be seeing before or after our visit.”