Outdoor classroom teaches children about nature

Raising a Wild Child nature class, July 13, 2017. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

TWO RIVERS (WLUK) -- An outdoor classroom on the Lakeshore is teaching youngsters about nature.

The program is called Raising a Wild Child. It is geared toward pre-schoolers, but there are lessons to be learned for those at any age.

At the Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Two Rivers, about a dozen students, their parents, and guardians gathered for a lesson in the outdoors.

"We're trying to show them that they don't need to be experts in nature to take their kids ouside, and let them explore," said Jessica Johnsrud, Woodland Dunes Nature Center Education Coordinator and Assistant Director.

A nature walk is replaced by something a else.

"We call it a nature wander. That's kind of the focus of the program. It just depends what the kids find," said Johnsrud.

"Be careful. don't touch it. Ok, We'll just leave it," cautioned one mother.

A curious snail can create a lot of attention.

"There's snails that live on the land, and snails that live in the water," said Johnsrud.

"We try to let them engage with nature in their own way," she said.

After a quick walk down the Willow Trail, also know as "Mosquito Alley," the group mad its way to the nature center's prairie.

Students are encouraged to use their eyes, noses, and even their ears to take it all in.

"Bees, Anything else go bzzz? Bumble bees, flies. Good," said Johnsrud.

Johnsrud says teaching kids about nature at early age can help them when they get older.

"They just soak in everything. So they are learning, even if they don't realize it," she said.

Angie Cerkas and her two boys are no strangers to the outdoors.

"We love it. We come every time. I'm learning a lot too. A lot of things you forget about," said Angie Cerkas, Manitowoc.

Her son enjoys the program.

"Because there's a lot of learning stuff to do," said Ben Cerkas, Manitowoc.

It is the first time Cassie Goff and her family have been to Woodland Dunes.

"It was definitely a good learning experience. It was just fun to spend time with kids outside in nature. And we'll definitely be coming back," said Cassie Goff, Manitowoc.

But there was one possible down side, the return trip down "Mosquito Alley."

"It feels really bad," said Tucker Goff, Manitowoc.

This is the first year for the Raising a Wild Child Program.

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