By William Thompson: Quay County Sun
Lessons about how to purify water with duck feathers and what a rattlesnake skin feels like, may not be regular classroom lessons. But Tucumcari Elementary School students spent Friday at their outdoor classroom learning lessons like these — about planet Earth and it’s inhabitants.
Students spent time at eight different stations.
“My favorite part was the animal skins,” said Ashley Cryer, 9. “We got to feel snake skins, turtle shells, fox, black bear and beaver skins.”
Sarah Cordova, 9, also said the animal skins exhibit was her favorite.
“We’ve been going around and doing all kinds of stuff,” Cordova said. “I really liked the animal skins because I want to work with animals but my mom won’t let me have any animals.”
Students raised butterflies in their classrooms and released them outdoors Friday.
“I feel kind of sad but happy,” Brianna Molinas, 9, said. “They’ll make good lives.”
Olana Romero, 9, said it was a privilege to watch caterpillars change into butterflies.
“Now other kids get to admire the butterflies,” Romero said.
Gerald Stratton, soil scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said the students paid attention as he explained different types of soil.
“My exhibit isn’t as exciting as the snake skins but I was able to emphasize that soil is our most important resource in food production,” Stratton said.
Pete Walden of the county extension service said he told students about invasive plants.
“One student said invasive plants were like invaders from foreign lands colonizing a country,” Walden said. “I thought that was pretty sharp.”
Phillip Alden, 9, said he learned duck feathers can absorb bacteria from wilderness water.
“I also really liked the fossils,” Alden said. “We got to learn how to tell what time period the fossils were from.”
Richard Bull of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said children these days are more environmentally conscious.
“More people are observing Earth Day each year,” Bull said. “By observing Earth Day, these kids will grow up with a better understanding of conservation of natural resources and the environment.”