This week Katelyn and I started working with the San Diego Zoo and the YMCA to help out with their summer program. We participated in an assembly day in which we went to a local elementary school to help teach the kids about nature. The Zoo staff brought a bunch of great gear and talked to the kids about what they thought they should pack when going out hiking. We had a competition of boys versus girls in which one boy and one girl raced to see who could pack the most essential items they would need for a hiking trip. All the kids were so enthusiastic and cheered on their teammates. Then the kids got to see some cool zoo animals, such as an armadillo and a baby turtle. Later, they were able to plant their own plants using egg cartons. Katelyn and I could tell the kids were having fun getting dirty. After the kids participated in about three stations of activities, the day came to an end and we told them there would be more exciting things to come on their summer program field day. The next day the kids came to the refuge all excited, with their hats and packed lunches. We showed them a live cam video of Burrowing Owls in Florida so they could see this species in its natural habitat. Then we took the kids out to the trails where they needed to find a stuffed owl tracker and a stuffed lizard tracker. A zoo staff member had brought a tracking device for this activity to teach the kids how real researchers track the animals they are studying and observing to gather data. Although it would have been even more fun if the kids could have tracked real animals, we knew it wouldn’t be possible since live animals move and we wouldn’t have a chance of capturing them even if we wanted to. Despite this obstacle, the kids really enjoyed collecting plankton with the plankton nets and getting to see some interesting insects and other creatures. They were also able to use the plants they had planted the previous day to put them in the ground on the refuge. Afterwards, all the kids headed back to the classroom to finish filling out their booklet about all that they learned that day, and they got a stamp on the back so they could come back to the refuge later and enjoy bringing their family into the Living Coast Discovery Center for free. It was a great first two days of this summer program, and I can’t wait to see how the next ones turn out!

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