By Miriam Westervelt, PhD
This school year Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy conducted three teacher workshops promoting nature observation for improving the physical and mental wellbeing of young people.
Forty-three K-12 Loudoun County public school teachers from 18 different schools attended the “Peterson Young Naturalist Program: Healthy Connections” training during the 2022-2023 school year. In November, the training was held in the school garden at Sugarland Elementary School. In March it used the riparian buffer at Tuscarora High School to train science teachers on their professional development day. New to the Peterson Instructor Team this year are representatives of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun Pediatric Obesity Coalition and Loudoun Environmental Education Association which will provide a wealth of resources to teachers all year long.
This year’s Peterson teachers are now equipped with the lesson plans and community support they need for outdoor learning using nature observation and nature journaling skills. Students with exceptional journals will receive awards at the Loudoun Wildlife annual meeting on June 4. Parents and educators interested in using the Peterson program lessons can find them on the Lesson Plan Examples page.
The program is named in memory of Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996) the world- renowned naturalist and author of the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds. Peterson often credited his direction in life to a teacher who nurtured his interest in birds after seeing his drawing of a blue jay.