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By Becky Gillette
Special to The SUN
For six weeks each fall, Terry Hershey’s Four Mile Ranch transforms from a working ranch into an outdoor learning laboratory.
Bringing nature into the classroom and children into nature, Audubon Rockies’ Four Mile Ranch Environmental Education program is an engaging combination of indoor and outdoor learning activities — provided at no cost to participating students.
Audubon staff members teach classroom sessions to review science concepts and vocabulary, and prepare students for a day outdoors. At the ranch, trained volunteer educators lead groups of eight-12 children on school-day nature hikes, with hands-on learning, games, play and discovery built in.
Every year, every student at Pagosa Springs Elementary School visits Four Mile Ranch, along with children from Dulce Elementary School, charter schools and home-school families. Since 2007, more than 4,000 local students have taken part.
Volunteer educators allow young people to learn science directly from the natural world in a way not possible inside a school building. With Audubon’s free, fun and hands-on volunteer training program, you can expand your own understanding of science and nature while giving back to our community’s future leaders.
No previous teaching experience is required — just a love of children and the outdoors, and the ability to hike primitive, hilly trails. Training includes adult-level natural history, group management, child development and outdoor safety information, plus a comprehensive activities manual.
This year’s training starts Aug. 26 (9 a.m.-noon), and continues Aug. 27, Sept. 3 and 4 (8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. all three days). Student programs are scheduled from Sept. 10 through mid-October, depending on weather.
Advance registration, attendance at four training sessions and a background check are required. For more information, contact Becky Gillette at 883-3066 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you love children and nature, local youth need your help.