BKW fourth-graders celebrate Earth Day at Switzkill Farm

— Photo from Richard Ronconi

Learning about industrious builders, Berne-Knox-Westerlo students gather at the Switzkill Farm beaver pond.

— Photo from Richard Ronconi

Hands-on learning: Students learn about the diet of owls as they dissect owl pellets.

— Photo from Richard Ronconi

A mentor from the state’s Department of Environmental conservation, Jackie Lendrum, demonstrates how water becomes polluted.

— Photo from Richard Ronconi

Artist Ray Whalen volunteered his time and talents to teach fourth-graders to paint watercolors.

— Photo from Richard Ronconi

Earth Day delayed: Berne-Knox-Westerlo fourth-grade teacher Matt Whalen teaches his students about beavers during a recent visit to Switzkill Farm in Berne.


To the Editor:

On a sunny Friday, May 18, a month after the snowy, cold official date, 60 Berne-Knox-Westerlo fourth-graders, their teachers, and several volunteers celebrated Earth Day 2018 at Switzkill Farm in Berne.

Led by fourth-grade teacher Matt Whalen, students circulated from ponds to meadows to woods as they participated in workshops designed to learn from nature. Each one, led by an expert mentor, provided hands-on experience for the kids.

In Owl Pellet Dissection, the kids learned what owls eat by identifying the bones in regurgitated pellets. It was all fascination, nary a shout of “yuk” or “gross.”

Busy Beavers took the kids to observe beaver activity in and around a pond on the 350-acre property.  In a field with a backdrop of greening trees, students captured some remarkable scenes of emerging spring in Watercolor Painting.

The students followed one of the farm’s wooded trails, identifying trees and birds in All About Trees.  Water Quality and Healthy Soils allowed the students to participate in a simulation of how to improve common activities and practices to avoid negatively impacting the environment.

During a picnic lunch the fourth-graders enthusiastically compared their experiences.

Earth Day, wisely postponed a month, was a great learning experience for sixty BKW students and holding it at Switzkill Farm once again highlighted the value of this place as a rich resource to the school district and the community.

The Switzkill Farm Board hopes BKW will make frequent use of the scenic property only a short distance from the school.

Richard Ronconi, member

Switzkill Farm Board

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.