Home Environmental education Kindergartens Converge at CASEE Center for Fall Learning

Kindergartens Converge at CASEE Center for Fall Learning


Rick Bannan / [email protected]

The smoky air cleared for a soggy fall day on Friday as kindergarten children from Battle Ground Public Schools descended on the district’s Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education (CASEE) for the first time in three years.

On October 21, students from Maple Grove Elementary School were the first to tour the center property in Brush Prairie. The Nakia Creek fire had snuffed out plans for more elementary schools to attend the center earlier in the week, but a break in the weather that included rain dropped the air quality index to lows. healthy levels in time for the start of Friday’s planned visits.

Kindergarten children visited a number of stations run by CASEE students as they learned about nature. These stations included learning about the colors of nature, seeds, animal tracks, amphibians and invertebrates, as well as farm animals like goats brought in by the students. The event also featured a pumpkin patch, where kindergartners could pick their own pumpkin.

Chris Collmer, one of CASEE’s teachers, said the center has been unable to schedule its fall visit since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Then smoke from the Nakia Creek fire made hosting the outdoor event unhealthy until Friday.

“It’s wonderful. It’s been a long time,” Collmer said.

The event was part of the center’s public speaking component for its students which facilitates visits by younger students to the district year-round. Collmer said the kindergarten visits helped students at the center by “empowering them to teach others and lead.”

“Every profession is better with public speaking skills. Life in general, you can do so much more if you are able and willing to speak in front of others,” Collmer said.

CASEE welcomes BGPS students to its grounds from all elementary grades, including first-grade tours to learn about plants and fourth-grade trips to learn more about forestry, according to the center’s website. . Students at the center participate in the half-day program where they learn a variety of disciplines ranging from environmental science to industrial biotechnology.

One such student, senior Caleb McLachlan, led a station examining invertebrate life found at the center’s 80-acre site.

“Insects are extremely important for the environment. They help a lot of processes in the water. They help predators, they help prey,” McLachlan said.

Animals on display included snails, backswimmers and damselfish larvae. McLachlan said the students used spring traps to collect the animals before identifying them. They are usually released afterwards, except when used in exhibits such as those shown during kindergarten tours.

McLachlan noted that his sophomore year had been stifled by COVID-19 restrictions, so now with relatively normal operations in the district, he said it was great to be back on the field.

“We’re dying to come here and start showing people things and doing more practical things,” McLachlan said.