By Becky Gillette
Special to The SUN
For six weeks each fall, Terry Hershey’s Four Mile Ranch is transformed 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 8-12 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 4,500 local students have taken part.