My Environmental Education Outlet
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Kelsey Depew's Warner Story:
The Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center (WNC) gave me the opportunity to help children connect with nature. Building a connection and a relationship with plants, trees, insects, animals, water, and more at a young age is so important in growing a passion and understanding of our natural world. The spark needs to start somewhere and the student programs at WNC provided that opportunity for thousands of kids for the past 52 years.
WNC is unique in the sense that students can experience not just one biome on a single visit, but they can explore a bog, a forest, a prairie, and a lake ecosystem all in one go. They also don’t have to share the trails with the public so each student group can focus on the topic at hand and not worry about safety issues.
WNC didn’t only benefit youth, but it was an outlet for many adults, like me, who volunteered their time and passion for nature to help those student grow. In a way, it also helped us grow our love and knowledge of the natural environment.
Volunteering at WNC as a Trail Guide benefited my need to educate youth about nature. I loved showing and teaching students various topics about wetlands, birds, animals, moss, worms, etc. This list is endless! And I know many other volunteers that feel the same way because the atmosphere at Warner was so positive that it just attracted you and made you want to stay forever.
One quick story I love to share about volunteering as a WarnerTrail Guide is when I see the light shine from a student's eye when they figure out nature is AWESOME! I live to see that moment. It's like a light turns on in their head, and that's when I know I have hooked them on the mysteries of mother nature. The spark of passion has been struck!
This passion and love for nature can be seen in our daily actions when interacting with society. The need to protect and balance natural resources becomes higher, and the need for sustainability in our communities becomes stronger. Which is amazing because we need to move our societies to be more sustainable.
Therefore, the closing of Warner Nature Center on December 31st is such a shame because the act of bringing students and volunteers out to the property will be cut off. Which destroys another avenue in building connections and relationships between future generations and a passion for nature. And at this time, we need ALL the avenues we can get!
For me, the closing of WNC means losing my environmental education outlet. I live quite close to the property, and WNC was a place I took pride in volunteering at because of the excellent programs, staff, and students. Other passionate volunteers also made it such a joy to spend my time at Warner.
We need to continue the legacy of Warner Nature Center because the benefits of the programs and land are endless to the children that visit and to the adults that volunteer, not to mention the fulfillment the stuff receive for helping provide and orchestrate the opportunities.
I have more to say, but I'll end my story about WNC here. :) Thanks for reading.
This story was shared by:
MAEd:NSEE Graduate from Hamline University Environmental Educator & Consultant at CUT FLUFF
Trail Guide at Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center
Part-Time Gardener at The Outing Lodge B&B
Board Secretary for Sustainable Stillwater Minnesota