Submitted by Troop Leader Nancy Watson
Ambassador Girl Scout Troop 20130 members Aimen Ali, Julia Dmowska, Katherine Sumarriva, and Alyssa Watson have worked with the Tennesee Izaak Walton League (TN IWL) to offer a new, free, year-long series of nature programs for the public. Troop member Emma Barnes worked in the initial planning stages and occasionally assisted with an event, but had school-year time constraints.
The girls had worked with TN IWL several years ago to make signs, benches, and educational displays for the Turkey Creek Wetland Park Natural Area. Mark Campen, executive director, contacted them last spring to see if they were interested in internships to help develop a new outdoor education program.
Just after school was out in 2010, the girls enthusiastically began to dream up a series of outdoor programs. They decided they would plan, publish, and assist with the events, and the Tennessee Izaak Walton League naturalists would provide the expertise for the main program. Since the series of programs was new for the TN IWL, the whole format, subject matter, methods of publicizing, and every other detail had to be decided.
Their first event with four naturalists leading short programs was in August 2010 and everyone arrived at the park in a light rain. Many of the girls’ teen friends had turned out to help with the event, but only five other people came out in the drizzle to attend. The decision was made to proceed with the stream sampling and nature walks despite the weather. At the end of the event, many of the volunteers commented on how much fun the stream sampling was, and the girls wanted to plan another stream event and hope for better weather.
The second stream program was in early October 2010, and this time the day was beautiful with an excellent turnout. TN IWL’s Nelson Ross began the program with a survey of macro invertebrates to catch everyone’s interest and educate them on the basics of stream ecology. Knox County storm water professional Parci Gibson concluded with a talk about how we can keep our streams clean.
In addition, they’ve offered a program about seeds and a program about planting for wildlife program in Turkey Creek Wetland, a series of three seasonal nature walks at TVA’s Hickory Bend Land, an early spring nature walk at William Hastie Natural Area, a tree-planting program at Episcopal School of Knoxville, and a program to build bluebird houses.
Mark Campen, says of the program, “We are always excited and grateful to have volunteers from schools, Scouts, churches and any other civic groups that want to help us carry out part of mission, which is to provide conservation education opportunities to the public.” Alyssa Watson, teen volunteer, says “I feel like we are doing something important when we teach adults and kids about the environment.”
In addition to the TN IWL programs, the girls have taken what they have learned on this project and presented nature games and educational crafts at West Knox Service Unit encampment and Second Saturday at The Cove.