At Discovery we offer hands-on activities in nature. So it’s been tough on us as well as the students to back away from immersion-style education. But this week, Bob Armstrong and I had a wonderful series of virtual Seaweek Q&As with 3rd and 4th-graders, facilitated by Discovery’s Education Coordinator Kelly Sorensen, and Integration Teacher Elizabeth Kent with the School District. Themes included birds (adaptation, migration, coastal habitats) and beavers (behavior, ecology). So naturally, we had to talk to NatureBob.
Bob Armstrong was around at the inception of Seaweek, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. He and his friend Dick Marriott—for whom Marriott loop trail near Dzantik’i Héeni was later named—met students on Eix’gul’héen, warmsprings creek (Switzer), to show them rearing salmonids and their habitat. Some of those early seaweek kids are now grandparents.
Neither Bob nor I have directly participated in this annual rite-of-spring for many decades. In some ways Seaweek was the philosophical grandmother of Discovery Southeast, who adopted Seaweek’s April-&-May activities in the late 1980s and spread them throughout the year. For Seaweek’s Year-51, still under the cloud of covid, Kelly and Elizabeth thought it might be fun (and extremely efficient) for the kids to fire bird-&-beaver questions at a pair of geezer-naturalists who were sniffing castoreum scentmounds before their parents were born. K&E scheduled back-to-back zoom sessions, up to 4 in a row, then joined us at Discovery’s offices and Elizabeth’s home to dial up the classrooms and make sure everything ran smoothly.
It’s no small feat to orchestrate virtual interviews with so many moving parts, but Elizabeth and Kelly and their many teacher colleagues are by now skilled navigators through these bewildering digital hallways. Bob & I were amazed. Enthusiasm shined through the masks, and the distancing, and we still CONNECTED!
Every time I work with teachers, I come away awed and inspired—all the more so these past 18 months. Students prepped for our Q&A sessions by visiting beaver habitat and-or migratory bird stopovers on Taashuyee, river/tide-flats (Mendenhall Wetlands). Curiosity is alive and well in our elementary schools. I’ll be excited to join teachers outside in our June, 2021 workshop The outdoor classroom.. For me, there’s no greater honor than to hang out in the woods and wetlands with these stewards of our community’s future.