by Linda Cataldo Modica, State of Franklin Group Chair, April 1996
With 400 groups nationwide, it's time for the Sierra Club to expand its environmental
education activities and reach out to children and their families.
Our small group in upper east Tennessee embraced this big idea last spring and
organized and ran a junior naturalist camp for young children. My then-five-year-old
daughter, Loretta, coined the Sierra Cubs program name (now a
registered trademark of the national Sierra Club) for what we hope will soon become a
Board-approved nationwide model for a grassroots "Sierra Club for Kids."
With the assistance of a park director who had worked with the Cherokee Group in
Chattanooga on a children's hiking program, we developed a nature program for our local
park. I asked experienced volunteers Jane Ensign, Lori Klinger, Donna Cooper, Karen Miller
and Joe Franklin to help draw up a plan for a week-long, 9 a.m. to noon program of
interpretive hikes and nature-related crafts and games for three separate age groups: 5-7,
8-10 and 11-13-year-olds.
We then developed a list of experienced educators who could conduct interpretive hikes
on wetland ecology -- this camp's particular focus, given the park's natural features --
and distributed public service announcements and brochures throughout the community.
With a cadre of natural scientists, park naturalists and ecology teachers on board, and
with arts and craft supplies purchased, first aid training certified and nature games
learned, we successfully hosted 29 kids for two weeks.
The kids had fun spotting wildlife, identifying insects, getting closer looks through
microscopes and playing games. Because we had invited parents to participate, positive
feedback was immediate. Now is the time for your group to start planning your own Sierra
Cubs nature camp.
Tremendous goodwill can be generated by a group that provides an educational
opportunity for the children of current Club members and the community at large. In our
case, we gained at least 26 new members. And by inserting the Sierra Cubs camp in our
SuperFRIP II proposal, we will also receive a 50 percent rebate on these membership dues.
Group-driven, the Sierra Cubs is grassroots born and will be grassroots raised and
nurtured. It can complement Inner City Outings as a service that groups outside urban
centers can offer. Most importantly, children in your community will learn about their
natural environment through a hands-on course in ecology sponsored by the Sierra Club.
For more information, contact the Franklin Group at firstname.lastname@example.org
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