Teacher Provides Opportunity for Learning in the Great Outdoors

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.

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

“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.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese 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 and On-the-Town Magazine. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio


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