The big orange bus from Austin pulled into the Lost Pines Nature Trails parking lot, the doors opened, and forty 8th graders spilled out like grain from a silo. It was a little after nine on the cloudy Wednesday morning of April 22, 2015. Rain was predicted for the afternoon, but so far the weather was holding good for the Trinity Episcopal High Schooler’s Colorado River nature field trip.
The students and teachers came en masse from the parking lot to the home school area where eleven Lost Pines Chapter Master Naturalists were waiting to teach, lead, or lend moral support. Larry Gfeller greeted the group as the master of ceremonies to introduce everyone and give a brief warning as to the hazards of the area – fire ants, poison ivy, chiggers, and snakes. If that didn’t send the students screaming back to the bus, nothing would.
The students were divided into three groups — Red Group, Green Group, and Yellow Group. One group started at Station 1 in the home school area led by Cat May, who talked about the edge effect and the local wildlife.
The second group started at Station 2 held at a meadow picnic table led by Julia Akin who spoke about the wetlands ecosystem.
The third group was split into two sub-groups with half going on an interpretative hike led by Larry Gfeller and Steve Mordock, and the other half going on a birding hike led by Carroll Moore and Jim Estes.
Audrey Ambrose, Mike Bennett, Nick Nicholes, Wes Smith, and Ronnie Lanier circulated among the groups to lend moral support and offer tidbits of information here and there. Each session lasted 30 minutes, at the end of which the three groups rotated to the next station. After each of the three groups had completed all three stations, they were cut loose to head for the beach for a swim in the river.
Through the eyes of one of the station leaders, the day’s programs were a great success judging by the student’s attention, response, and questions. The young people were respectful, polite and intelligent — a delight to have in our outreach program and hopefully future groups will be equally as much fun.