On October 18, Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont will kick off its annual course for anyone 18 and older who wants to become a Volunteer Environmental Educator (VEE).
By Allen Clark
On October 18, Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont will kick off its annual course for anyone 18 and older who wants to become a Volunteer Environmental Educator (VEE). The 12-session course, run on Thursdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m., consists of a combination of ecology, the natural world, and teaching techniques, and is run by former Rye resident and Sheldrake Program Director Mary Davis.
Graduates become VEEs, then work with young students from Rye Neck, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Scarsdale, and New Rochelle schools, teaching them all about nature. Throughout the school year, they take turns going to the various elementary schools (“pre-trip” sessions) to work with kids K-4 and later, on actual field trips to the Larchmont Reservoir, the Sheldrake River Trail, and Larchmont Dog Beach.
There are currently about 30 VEES, according to Davis, split about one to five men and women, reaching more than 3,000 children each year. “This is a great chance for all kinds of adults in Rye and neighboring communities to learn amazing facts about plants and animals that are right in their own backyards,” says Davis, “including many things they might never have noticed before.”
Former Larchmont resident Robin Bryne said, “Our classes have been full of laughter and awe as, one by one, we’ve begun to really see the world around us in a new light.” By attending the special training sessions, the VEEs are led into a growing understanding and confidence about how to share what they’ve learned with others.
“It’s very rewarding to see how well the children relate what they’ve learned in the classroom to what they discover on the field trips,” says Rye resident Barbara Hicks, who has been a VEE for eight years. “Their enthusiasm always motivates me to sign up for more trips.”
Davis points out that studies show that children are physically and mentally healthier if they spend time outdoors in nature. “They’re calmer, more creative, and score higher on tests.” She adds, “I’m sure there are many of us who would like to be a part of the excitement and discovery as these young kids walk our trails.”
The center is at 685 Weaver Street in Larchmont. Class size is limited, so interested adults should register now. Contact Mary Davis at 834-1443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.