- Sponsorship -

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.

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
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 or email Erin.


Learning from a place full of living things

Rebecca Perry and her class of eager kindergartners spent their morning exploring the newly redone Living Lab at Zinser Elementary...

Mapping the road to learning

Elementary teachers Billie Freeland and Nicole Andreas are at the forefront of using a curriculum designed to further educational goals, regardless of whether students are in person or online...

‘Even though it is extra work, I don’t mind the changes’

Teachers of specialty subjects — art, music and physical education — share their experiences after the pandemic prompts changes to class procedures...

Bus drivers work as daytime cleaners during pandemic

It’s also a plus to have familiar faces around school...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Fourth-grader’s pickle stand inspired by school marketplace

‘With my tiny fingers, I am good at stuffing them,’ said the young pickle peddler. ‘You can see how they are packed in, so you get more for the money’...

Spreading out in the great outdoors

Outdoor education mid-pandemic is proving to be a welcome and successful alternative to indoor, masked learning in Byron Center this fall...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU