Spring arrives one month from today. Hurrah!
As y’all know, I freelance for a neighborhood paper produced down here by the Boerne Star. This article appeared earlier this month. I have so much admiration for Peggy Spring’s work that I wanted to share it with you guys, too.
Peggy Spring, education coordinator for northern San Antonio’s natural areas, oversees community outreach for three area parks: Friedrich Wilderness Park, Eisenhower Park, and Crownridge Canyon Park.
“Our main hub is Friedrich. We have 700 acres here with trails and the classroom building. We’re set to add five more miles of trails this year. Over at Eisenhower, we’ve got 300 acres, a pavilion, playground and trails. At Crownridge, we have 200 acres, trails and a pavilion.”
Spring’s task is to connect young urban and suburban dwellers to the wilderness areas in hopes of sparking a community commitment to conservation. To that end, she oversees summer camps, weekend talks, and weekday classes.
Attendance at all of the activities has been brisk per Spring. A team of 40 volunteers assists her in running the classes and camps. “Some of the volunteers are very specialized and only come out to work with certain topics or specific programs. We have initial training and continuing education for all of them.”
Although Spring and her volunteers do occasionally do off-sight presentations in the community, she said that her office’s main purpose is to “bring people out to the park.”
School field trips are popular as are specialized programs for groups of 10 or more. “For the group program, we get scouts, daycare centers, and even parents who pair up to bring their respective families. We help scouts with their badges, particularly at the Webelo stage, for the naturalist and geologist badges.”
Public and private schools use the parks for field trips, but the weekday classes offered at Friedrich Park are primarily the domain of local homeschoolers. “We have a lot of homeschoolers. They make the most of the classes. This spring we’re adding special weekday classes for toddlers and preschool-aged kids.”
Parents of homeschoolers and public school kids alike rave about the summer camps. “My boys have all attended [the camps],” said Pam Humphrey, who has three grade-school aged children. “Peggy’s passion for nature & science is reflected in my boys’ excitement and enthusiasm about all that they did and learned during the week.”
Hoping to reach out to more residents, Spring and her volunteers recently rolled out a new “naturalist in the park” series. “It will be at Friedrich Park on Saturdays. We’ll have a volunteer out there with a display on a particular topic, like rocks or animals. They’ll give a talk every half hour and be available for questions and discussion between the talks. We’re aiming to have someone out there 3 out of 4 Saturdays, weather permitting.”
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Spring added. “We’re hoping to start a volunteer patrol out in the park to answer questions. I’m only one person. I can’t be everywhere,” Spring said with a laugh. “But we’d like to have a visible presence out in the park for people who want to learn more.”
Spring takes pride in the affordability of the programs. “Many of our programs are free or donation based. For the donation-based programs, if people can’t pay, then that’s fine. It really is. The only thing we have a fee for is the summer camps”
Helping to underwrite the costs of the programming is a group known as the Friends of Friedrich Park. “We’re grateful to them for supporting our education programs and for providing scholarships for camps, too,” said Spring. “The Friends, as an advocacy group, too, talk with area developers about ecology issues. They help us tremendously.”
Friedrich Park Spring 2014 Calendar
For complete program descriptions, visit SANaturalAreas.org. For reservations (highly recommended), please call 210-564-6402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elementary & Middle School Classes
All classes meet from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Participants should dress for the weather. Suggested donation is $5 per child, per session; maximum of $10 per family per session.
• Grades 1 to 4
All classes meet from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM
- February 25, 26 or 27: Explore! The Green Stuff
- March 25, 26 or 27: Explore! Pollinators
- April 22, 23 or 24: Explore! The Park
• Grades 5 to 8
All classes meet from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM
- February 24 or 27: Explore! Eyeballs
- March 25 or 27: Explore! Find Your Way
- April 22 or 24: Explore! Making a River
It is recommended that children be walking and a parent or adult must accompany each child. Siblings are allowed if they do not distract. Suggested donation is $3 per child per session. Classes are held from 10 AM to 11 AM on the following dates:
- February 21: Worm Tracks
- March 7, 14 or 21: Ants Go Marching
- April 4, 11 or 18: Tree Houses
- May 2, 9 or 16: Grow, Grow, Grow