By Mariel | May 23, 2011
Teaching children is both incredibly rewarding and frustrating. I suppose I should explain the nature of my teaching; I am a CAC, a Canisius Ambassador for Conservation, which is the reason for my staying at Canisius for five extra weeks after the end of the semester. As a CAC, which is one of the best things about the animal behavior major here at Canisius, I got a free trip to Trinidad over spring break to study and learn about migratory birds. So far, Trinidad is at the top of my list of most amazing places on Earth. A description of that trip alone is worth its own blog. Hmm, good idea! Note to self, Trinidad blog in the future. But back to the CAC program. As a caveat to the free trip to Trinidad, we are required to teach some of the lessons that we learned about birds and nature at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge after the end of the semester, to groups of children from various schools in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. We also get a stipend for this service. Sounds like a pretty good gig, right? As an animal behavior and an anthroozoology minor, this is hopefully what my life’s work will consist of; teaching others about the wonders of the natural world. Hence the perfect fit of this program into my future job prospects. By the way, anthrozoology is a relatively new field in case you didn’t recognize it, and it concerns the study of the relationships between humans and animals. So far it seems like a pretty messy but wonderful field to pursue.
Working with children, especially from the city of Buffalo is amazing because they are like little sponges; they absorb everything you tell them. The sad part is that the knowledge that they are absorbing is knowledge that I know I had when I was their age. To me as a kid growing up in the country, the lessons that I am teaching were common knowledge. A robin has a red breast, poison ivy has three leaves, all of the water on the earth is connected in a giant cycle, and wetlands are endangered and amazingly important. Showing a 7th grader what a robin looks like for the first time or assuring a 3rd grader that touching an oak tree won’t kill them is slightly depressing. Where is the love of nature that should be instilled in every child from a very young age? I hope that I can influence these children and show them the wonders of nature and I am incredibly thankful for the CAC program to help me with just that.