Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — Crawdads were the star attraction for a dozen Springcreek Primary third-grade students clustered around one of 11 prop stations set up at the 180-plus acre land lab at Upper Valley Career Center last week. As students of the Environmental Occupations program for Upper Valley CC, under direction of Jim Metz and Michaella Quinter, had the opportunity to share their knowledge of nature to the tour group.
According to April Presser, Springcreek third-grade teacher, the class had just finished studying omnivores, carnivores and herbivores and were well-prepared for questions posed to them at another station, one that proved equally compelling for her class, with a range of skins and skulls laid out across the table top. Animals that had died in the surrounding woodland ranged from a coyote and raccoon pelt to the skull of a fox.
The younger students were fully engaged during their informational tour held beneath a canopy of ash and beech trees, to name a few, with some trees estimated to be anywhere from 200 to 300 years old, as Metz explained how 57 acres, including the wetlands, is federally protected.
Meanwhile, flora beneath their feet were identified, including Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Leeks, Spring Beauties, Solomon’s Seal, bloodroot and violets.
“Have you ever seen the red?” asked Quinter, who pulled a single bloodroot from the soil so as to show the Piqua Daily Call the red sap used as dye by native Americans. The violets proved intriguing to several of Mrs. Presser’s students who thought the delicate purple petals were butterflies upon first observation.
This was the first outdoor tour day for the students, explained Quinter, as heavy rain had kept the group from the land lab and in the classroom, during a previous tour. Before the day was over, the Environmental Occupations students would provide a total of 30 different talks to the primary group. Students who attend the two-year program can look forward to employment in a variety of jobs, including parks and recreation management, forestry, game warden, park ranger, and educational opportunities.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall