This time of year, it is tempting to feel overwhelmed and look toward the end of the spring season. There are days, however, that leave me in awe of the privilege I have and cause me to feel terribly grateful. Tuesday was such a day. The stars aligned and, honestly, I really needed it after several stressful and cancelled field trips due to the incredible late April and May snows. We had a great group of 5th grade students from a nearby elementary school. The group was the perfect size for lots of hands-on activities and engagement. To understand the beauty of this trip, you must also know the circumstance in which the trip took place. These students, due to stresses upon the school which they attend, only experience one field trip throughout their elementary school career. Just one. That field trip, the one they had waited years for, the only one they had the chance to attend, was at the Watershed Center. I was thoroughly humbled at the thought. With that backdrop, the field trip could hardly have been better. I had my dream-team volunteer squad; a handful of absolutely knowledgeable and passionate Master Naturalists, two employees from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources eager to get their hands on worms and hooks, and our all-star, all-around volunteer, Nicole Boucher. I can’t begin to emphasize the sheer joy and freedom I experience when surrounded by such a group of intelligent and motivated individuals that truly allow me to do the best job I can with no worries. I am indebted to their selflessness. Added to great students and great volunteers, the field trip went smoothly, the sun was shining, and the parents and teachers couldn’t keep from smiling. At nearly the exact moment that my hand reached up to give a congratulatory pat to my own back, a turtle stole the show, a leopard frog drew the spotlight, a bird’s nest muted my speech. Humbleness round-two ensued. Despite my greatest effort to organize the stations and speak with confidence and charisma will never capture the imagination like a skink scampering aptly over hot stones, or a crayfish held between thumb and finger. A mysterious rustling or a discontented honk from a goose will outshine my climactic teaching moments every single time.

Today, my thoughts are scattered, still basking in remembered glory of yesterday’s field trip. As this is the case, and I have no wish or intent of reeling in my sentimental thoughts, I leave you with these musings. Fight for field trips in schools, especially those that bring kids into contact with nature. It is sad that these kids only get one field trip, and I was thankful that we got to have them out here and show them our best. Second, be fascinated by nature and encourage children to do the same. I learned quickly that the loudest voice cannot speak over the slightest shaking of branches by an unknown agitator. Children are naturally fascinated by creatures, but it is a fascination easily quelled.  Stop your sentence, and let them watch the beetle cross the path and stumble over dry leaves. There is more gained from those buzzing wings and scratching legs than in all of your words. Finally, I owe a great deal of thanks to all of you reading this entry. This success is your success. It is due to your involvement, your volunteering, your support, your guidance, and your sponsorship that I am able to convey the message of stewardship and protection of water and land on these trips. You make us, and you keep us moving forward; perhaps the most humbling thought of all. Thanks for reading.

Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator

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