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Class Acts

Read about college students’ opportunites at RCSJ - Cumberland and kids’ outdoor classrooms.

by Deborah Boerner Ein

It may be summer and school’s out but in this issue of SNJ Today we are happy to bring you news of educational opportunities in our region. After all, learning is a lifelong process that continues year-round.

On pages 7 and 8, you can read about some great programs at Rowan College of South Jersey – Cumberland and how these educational paths have turned lives around.

Also this week, in her article on page 10, Jane Galetto describes many outdoor educational activities available to youth. She lists some Citizen’s United (CU) Family-Friendly Friday events, and Julia Wiberg’s excellent photos depict CU activities such as nature journaling and river sampling.

In addition, our columnist suggests that learning happens even while kids explore the outdoors on their own or on family outings. Jane lists benefits—physical and emotional, tangible and intangible—of getting kids outside. Our early outdoor adventures shape memories and adult recreations—and in some cases, occupations.

As I was editing the column, I couldn’t help but smile at the recollections of my childhood days living (and working!) on the family farm. Some of my earliest writing was journaling what I observed in the natural world around me.

Researching and writing the biography of Mary Treat the last several years has inspired similar recollections. The 19th century naturalist who lived and worked in Vineland is a prime example of someone who carefully observed nature. Though little is known about her schooling, she obviously studied the natural environment from an early age. She was all about nature journaling, as she recorded her observations for herself and other scientists such as Charles Darwin.

Treat’s life story is one that needs to be heard by kids today. It is important that our youngsters experience a fascination for observing and studying nature. Toward this end, I followed up the publishing of Mary Treat: A Biography with Mary Had a Little Zoo. It’s a read-aloud 32-page children’s book set up with coloring pages to spark a child’s creativity and interest in the environment. A sample “Kids’ Page,” from the book can be found on page 9 in this issue of SNJ Today. I encourage you to share it with your children or grandkids.

Keep checking for more about the project.