After graduate school I took a job at the Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) in Huntsville, Arkansas as a Teacher Naturalist. My job was to teach and encourage kids and adults to learn about and appreciate our natural world. In the beginning I knew nothing of the hills of Arkansas and after three years I was passionate about taking in as much as I could and passing along that enthusiasm. I was among awesome co-workers whom inspired me on a daily basis from their wealth of knowledge, at home commitment to conservation and everlasting quest for more information. As I grew out of my role as a Teacher Naturalist I longed to do as much as I could for the organization. I then grew to put my efforts into the website, social media, print and electronic newsletters as well as manage our terracycle collections and become involved in community outreach. I loved my job and fully believed in the mission to enhance the understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Ozarks. Nothing can compare to taking kids outside and letting them discover on their own. Kids love it, need it and learn!
ONSC is in the middle of financial issues and has announced the closing of the center this May. The community is starting to rally. I know ONSC must stay in existence serving kids both locally and regionally. I know there is more than one way to make this happen. I have my ideas, thoughts and passions for ONSC. But what I can do now is to share my three years at ONSC so you can see what ONSC is. As the Baba Dioum quote states, “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
I hope these pictures help you to see what ONSC provides for the community. Many students visit ONSC without ever being around a campfire or taking a hike. I’ve often had teachers comment, you teach more in two days than I can in two weeks! Experiential learning is where it’s at. Less and less opportunities are available to get kids outside to learn and have fun and I urge you to get involved in any capacity to do your part to keep ONSC moving forward.
Enjoy the pics. Most of them I took and range from formal fifth grade programming, summer camps, staff training and the dreaded ice storm. ONSC was my stranded home during the ice storm of 2009. Lets just say I became an expert with a chainsaw as Mike and I tried to chainsaw are way out. It took 4-5 days.