Hiking at CREW: A comparison of Second graders and college-aged students.

Purely by chance a series of college hikes, and second grade field trips, overlapped in the same week, giving this observer a first-hand look at some of the timeless similarities and funny differences between these two age groups.

The bus dismount goes about the same for both groups. Some faces clearly display their inner thoughts, that they actually have no idea they were going for a hike in the middle of a 60,000 acre watershed. Quickly though they are reassured by the guide that they are in good hands and that staff know the way back to the bus. As the students all breath in the fresh air, they generally relax and enjoy the introduction.

As the hike meanders through the diverse yet intertwined ecosystems, personalities start to emerge. This is where it gets interesting.

College students ask questions and make observations that are quite cerebral in nature, where as the second grader is more hands-on and scientific in their approach:

  • Most second graders want to pick up and touch everything. They get muddy, and when they’re hot, jump in a puddle or pour water on their heads. 
  • Whereas most college students wouldn’t volunteer pick up an insect or touch soil samples, even if it was directly handed to them.

The talented teachers and experienced CREW Trust staff teach the perspective groups about a range of topics from observational details about wildlife and plant species to the benefits of prescribed burns, water quality in Florida aquifers, and what exactly is a Cypress Dome. 

  • The second grader often asks authentic, unprovoked, and funny rhetorical questions about the immediate world around them.
  • A college student tends to represent a broader knowledge and asks worldly and provocative questions, leading to some interesting discussions with classmates.
Stephanie Bravo holds a wild blueberry, while expertly warning the students to never eat what you find on the trail.

Guide says: Guess who likes eating these berries?

Students: BEARS!!

Concerned student asks: What do I do if I see a bear?

Guide responds: Well, first of all you probably won’t. But if you do know you’re lucky. Then look big and walk away slowly. You can wait until it leaves and continue your hike. Oh, and hike with a parent or friend.

Florida summer is particularly hot and buggy, but staff points out it’s also the time of year we see water-loving flowers in abundance and say goodbye the youngest Swallow-tailed Kites migrating to South America. The point of all this is to see these things first hand, to push personal boundaries and make a connection with the wild spaces around us. 

  • Second graders will apply their experience in the classroom and start to connect the bigger picture of watersheds and wildlife habitats to conservation projects.
  • College students may give back, volunteer, or spread the word to friends.

Getting back on the bus, regardless of the age group, students walk away with an awareness of the land and the role they can choose to play through conservation.

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