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Carrie Spencer


Explorer Programs

3854 Crawford Rd.
Dryden, Michigan 48428
In sharing the natural world with children, Carrie Spencer, a naturalist at Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, leads by example, letting the wonderment and peace she feels outdoors set the stage for students to learn about and become stewards for southeast Michigan’s natural resources.
Michigan Nightlight: How do you know you’re making progress?
Seven Ponds Nature Center Naturalist Carrie Spencer: We know we are making progress when teachers return year after year, and you overhear the students talking to each other saying that this is the best field trip they have ever been on or they wish they could stay forever. Even more so, when students bring their parents back to share Seven Ponds with them.
What are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of working with children, and being able to share their wonderment of the natural world. Seven Ponds is extraordinary and so diverse. We have glacial lakes, a tall grass prairie, many different kinds of wetlands, old fields, new growth and old growth forests, and lots of nooks and crannies to explore making Seven Ponds the perfect place for an outdoor classroom. We are not too far away from the city, but once you are here you feel like you are in the middle of
There are some children with very little experience in the out-of-doors who need to be guided more purposefully to help them understand how they are stewards to this planet.
nowhere, lost in the wilds. 
When I am with a group of kids and we see something common or ordinary, like a squirrel or a flower, to them it is magic. The natural world is so amazing and the children see the amazement so easily. I love being the one to show them this place.
What does being a leader mean to you? 
Being a leader means leading by example, showing children and encouraging children to be responsible stewards to our planet, and hoping to inspire the same joy I feel when I am outside just being.
I think leading by example, for me, comes naturally. How I walk on the trails, how I handle the plants and animals, or pick up trash as we walk -- those are examples of leading naturally. Allowing the children to use all their senses to explore is something they are not allowed to do often. Many of the adults in these kids’ lives have a hands-off approach to nature. Just allowing them to touch or seeing me touch, smell, and listen shows them how "safe" and intriguing the world around us is. Sometimes I have to be more purposeful. There are some children with very little experience in the out-of-doors who need to be guided more purposefully to help them understand how they are stewards to this planet. 
What is your dream for kids, and how does your organization help to make that happen?
My dream for kids is to have a world full of amazement and beauty and a world full of wild places for them to explore with
With so many children "plugged-in" today, they are missing a very key element to healthy physical and emotional development: nature.
their families. Seven Ponds Nature Center is not only an environmental education facility, but also a nature sanctuary. We are protecting the land for future generations to know and explore.
When many U.S. students are falling behind on math and reading, why should educators be concerned about environmental education?  
Environmental education is not necessarily separate from math and reading. It can be incorporated into all lessons. The natural world provides so many teachable moments and brings classroom lessons to life.
With so many children “plugged-in” today, they are missing a very key element to healthy physical and emotional development: nature. It has been shown by many studies that children and adults need to be interacting with the out-of-doors.
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Program Profile


  • Seven Ponds Nature Center
    The mission of Seven Ponds Nature Center is to conserve the natural environment of Seven Ponds as a sanctuary for native plants and animals, as a living classroom for environmental education, and as a peaceful retreat for its visitors.


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