CANASTOTA, N.Y. (NCC News) — The Junior Naturalist Program is about to complete its first season in existence. The Great Swamp Conservancy in Canastota holds the program for two weeks in the summer for children ages 7 through 12.
Camille Warner, conservation educator at the Swamp, shares a passion for ecosystems and all of nature, for that matter. Her hope with the Junior Naturalist Program is for children to understand the importance of nature.
“Kids should be excited about nature because it’s all around them, it effects them,” Warner said. “There’s always something to explore. There’s no way scientists have found every organism that exists.”
The Swamp is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to help preserve nature’s wetlands. With assistance from members and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Swamp serves over 100 acres of wildlife and ecosystems.
The last two weeks Warner has educated children on the importance of nature. Each day had a different agenda – such as, discovering archeology, learning insects, and gardening. Kids even had the chance to play tag in the wetlands and find animals in mud.
“The kids with cell phones aren’t getting outside,” Warner said. “I’m noticing that children are stuck on their devices. You need a program that gets them outside and we want to start them young.”
Not only does Warner enjoy educating youth on ecosystems and wetlands, but she enjoys seeing the children become excited over it.
“As soon as they realized what they were about to do, the excitement in their eyes, it was like that lightbulb look,” Warner said. “At least once every day one of those kids had this really unique lightbulb look.”
For more information regarding the Junior Naturalist Program or wetland ecosystem conservation, please contact the Great Swamp Conservancy.