Educational walk helps kids form stronger connections with nature

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hampton - posted Tue., Jan. 21, 2014
Goodwin naturalist Emma Lorusso points out a bird's nest to students Peter (left) and Sam. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Goodwin naturalist Emma Lorusso points out a bird's nest to students Peter (left) and Sam. Photos by Melanie Savage.

On Jan. 20, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sponsored a program at the Goodwin State Forest Conservation Education Center in Hampton. The program, entitled "Nature Exploration: Gifts of Nature," was geared toward children ages 8 to 12, who had the day off of school due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Goodwin naturalists Anna Malcom and Emma Lorusso kicked things off by asking visitors to name their favorite animal. There were votes for owls, dolphins and wild boars. Sophie, an 8-year-old from North Windham, said that she had many favorite animals. “But I like the wolf,” she said, after narrowing down the field.

Malcom brought out a mat filled with items the children might expect to see on the grounds of the Goodwin property. There was a turtle shell, some feathers, a bird’s nest, nuts hollowed out by field mice and a variety of other items. The purpose of the morning event was to help the children “form stronger connections with the forest,” said Malcom.

“We think of this as a workshop for developing observational skills,” added Friends of Goodwin Forest President Lynn Warren. “You could walk by the same spot 100 times and not notice a lot of things.”

Children played an ice-breaking game before donning coats, hats and mittens in preparation for spending the remainder of the three-hour visit outside in 40-degree temperatures. Their destination was a perimeter path winding around Pine Acres Pond. “I’m going to challenge you guys, while we’re walking, to try to find something and share it with everyone,” said Malcom.

The Friends of Goodwin Forest are working to develop a series of Master Naturalist classes. Look for more information on the group’s website,, in the spring. Upcoming programs include Kid's Nature Explore: Beneath the Snowy Floor, on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Interpretive Hike to Governor's Island, on Sunday, Jan. 26, from 12 to 3 p.m.; and Winter Twig I.D., on Friday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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