KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Despite heat making the outdoors a little less pleasurable than normal, a group of adults and teens has spent the last week at the One World Conservation Center, located on Route 7 south of town, learning about the plants and animals that live around them.
The week-long camp is aimed at adults with specialized needs, said Bruce Evey, the center’s director. He said a grant from the Mt. Laurel Foundation is funding the camp, and attendees were referred by the United Counseling Service. Young people from the UCS Teens for Change program are also assisting, and learning, as volunteers.
One of the camp’s activities on Tuesday was building beaver dams to see how they work. Camp Leader Jenica McEvoy said the goal of the camp is to foster curiosity among those who attend so they can learn more, appreciate more and share what they have learned with friends and family. Prior to building the mini-dams, the campers learned about beavers themselves.
Re-create a beaver dam
She said learning and exhibits are followed by a hands-on activity, which in this case was trying to re-create a beaver dam in a tin tray using mud, sticks, and grass.
Joanne Noble, 47, of North Bennington said she has enjoyed learning about the plants and animals around her, and now knows what types of plants are in the fields she sees and walks through. "It’s pretty fun," she said.
Barry Main, 25, of Bennington, said he had the chance to learn about various types of animals found in nature, including a snake the group came across along one of the center’s nature trails the day before.
McEvoy said that with the heat, she has directed activities indoors, wanting to keep the campers’ experiences with nature positive. McEvoy holds a degree in environmental education and is a former Yellowstone National Park ranger. She said teaching adults has been a new experience for her, and an enjoyable one.
"The grant is commensurate with our mission to provide education and recreational opportunities around biodiversity and conservation," said Evey. "The grant has provided a wonderful opportunity to expose adults with intellectual disabilities to the habitats, flora and fauna of southwestern Vermont."
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr