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Teacher Provides Opportunity for Learning in the Great Outdoors


Fourth-grader Tara Rood shows off her large-mouth bass
Fourth-grader Tara Rood shows off her large-mouth bass

Byron Center Public Schools Countryside Elementary School students reeled in bass, examined snapping turtles, dissected owl pellets, and feasted on s’mores and hamburgers at fourth-grade teacher Dan Volkers’ house for the annual end-of-year science field trip, “The Great Outdoors.”

Volkers’ five-acre property includes a large pond, treehouse and several outbuildings, perfect for exploration by curious students.

Parent John Woniewski, general manager of Cabela’s store in Grandville, provided 12 fishing poles and gear for students use. After learning to cast a line, many students caught sunfish and bass.

Fourth-grader Jakquelynne Ridout pets a duckling
Fourth-grader Jakquelynne Ridout pets a duckling

“It feels pretty good,” said fourth grader Ben Tilpin, who caught a small fish, his first catch ever.

“Some of these kids never get to do this stuff,” Volkers said about why he opens up his home for young people to have the cool learning experience

Many stations, located around the property, were tied to the fourth-grade curriculum including tree identification, study of food chains and adaptations, observing organisms in pond water and orienteering.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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