GREENBUSH — A new program may sprout future horticulturists, agriculturists, and maybe even engineers and coders.
Greenbush is a place of exploring and learning, Director of Student Enrichment Michael McCambridge said, and to help children explore more of the outdoors the organization brought on STEM and Outdoor Education Specialist Sydney Hale.
Greenbush has a special area where children could learn wildlife teaching skills, which was being used in the 90s but fell through later on.
McCambridge said Greenbush was looking for someone to utilize what the facility had to offer.
This would include discovery on trails and investigation of ponds and wetlands which are available right at the facility.
Before coming to Greenbush, Hale studied environmental biology. After graduating she had experience with wildlife, parks and fisheries. She also worked as a biologist in Mound City.
However, Hale had always sort of been an outdoors kind of person, she said, with hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities engrained in her family.
Hale wanted to dip her toe into outdoor education and she did just that by becoming a summer camp counselor last year.
McCambridge and other employees at Greenbush recognized her knowledge and found a way for her to join the team. A year later, she had began “planning effective lessons” for teaching children about various “outdoor” careers as a STEM and Outdoor Education Specialist.
Another area of discovery which will soon come to fruition is precision farming and the new technology which comes with it. Hale said some of the technology, for example agriculture drones help create “environmentally friendly practice,” along with helping farmers with their pocket book.
Greenbush is partnering with AgEagle to teach students about that very technology.
Hale said the drone can help determine the needs of the plants — more or less water, pesticide usage and more.
“There are so many careers that come from this one piece,” she said.
She said the drone makes a great Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics project because of the technology and science of how it all works.
Hale said the project is two-fold. Students may not be interested in the farming, however, they might be interested in the coding which makes the drone fly over specific areas.
Another project Hale hopes to bring to life is reworking the greenhouse at the facility. They are currently in the brainstorming state, but the topics of discovery could include, but are not limited to, hydroponics, “farm to table,” and agriculture and horticulture.
Recently, Hale joined Camp Enrichment Coordinator Emily Joy Roth for Camping Camp, a camp to teach children how to set up camp, read a compass, purify water and more.
Roth and Hale had an unexpected turn when the meal of chicken wrapped in aluminum foil over a fire went wrong and overcooked the chicken. Roth and Hale said it was an important lesson that day about sometimes things don’t go to plan out in nature. Children who had burnt chicken received tacos and were all fed while learning about “life readiness” along with their outdoor adventure.
These lesson, they said, are ingrained in the activities which students can learn along with the science and other exploration.
McCambridge said Greenbush, with the help of Hale, hopes to have the planned outdoors related projects complete or in process of being complete by 2020.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.