Trading Textbooks for the Great Outdoors

LOCUST LAKE STATE PARK, Pa. -- An event in Schuylkill County had students trading in textbooks for bullfrogs as they discovered what's living right in their backyards.

Frogs, rocks, and reptiles were just some of the things that replaced pencils and notebooks for sixth graders from Mahanoy Area Elementary School who were using Locust Lake State Park in Schuylkill County as a classroom on Friday.

"This is a black rat snake, and we have seen birds, and we've got mayfly nymphs under rocks in a crick," said sixth grader Michael Oblas.

The field trip was organized in part by the Schuylkill County Conservancy.

"We're trying to like learn about the wildlife and the plants and stuff," said sixth grader Janess Woodring.

Organizers are hoping these students are picking up more than just crayfish.

"Get some information across to the kids about nature and hopefully, in a fun way where they can see it out here and take that with them," said Dave Kruel, Schuylkill County Conservancy.

People from the Schuylkill County Conservancy tell Newswatch 16 they hope that programs like this will instill a love of wildlife in students so when they grow up, they can protect the areas the animals call home.

"People kind of take plants and like trees and stuff for granted, but it's kind of what we need to live and breathe and stuff, so you can't ruin it," Woodring said.

Teachers say students look forward to this field trip every year.

"They are absolutely engaged. They love coming out here in the outdoors, getting out of the classroom, especially at the end of the year after testing and everything," teacher Vanessa Linkchorst said.

"Getting to explore nature, not just sitting inside all day," Oblas added.

"We hope to continue this tradition for Mahonoy Area and come here every year, and I hope that they keep the program intact," said Linkchorst.

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