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Explorer Programs

Near the border of Lapeer and Oakland counties, Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden offers a K-6 grade curriculum, with each grade focusing on specific ecological concepts. The Explorer Programs bring science to life on 486 magical acres of lakes, ponds, and woodlands, reinforcing school lessons while promoting greater knowledge, awareness, and appreciation of the natural world.
Michigan Nightlight: What really differentiates these programs?
Seven Ponds Nature Center Naturalist Carrie Spencer: These programs are very hands-on. This allows the children to immerse themselves into nature. Children become detectives exploring the natural world and making their own discoveries.
What are the keys to success for your program?
Our naturalists are the key to the program’s success. Not only do the naturalists design the programs, but also teach them. They gently guide the children to see the natural world through all of the students’ senses, and also help them make their own discoveries. The naturalists will hopefully light the spark to make students into environmental stewards for this planet.
Children become detectives exploring the natural world and making their own discoveries.

Also all of our Explorer Programs correlate with state science expectations. Teachers have to give good reason for being their students to the nature center for a field trip. They can do this because all off our Explorer Programs correlate with the state’s science expectations.
What existing challenges remain with this program and how do you plan to overcome them?
The biggest challenge we have is getting the students here. With school budgets being cut and parents being over burdened finically, teachers do not have the funds to take field trips. Though they love bringing their students here, the teachers cannot always afford it. We are trying to remedy the situation by allowing classes to come for free through grants.
How do you innovate educational programming? Where do the ideas come from? How do you know if they are going to work? 
It is very important that the students are participating, are doing, as apposed to just observing.
It is very important that the students are participating, are doing, as apposed to just observing. We are always trying to make our Explorer Programs more hands-on. The staff is highly trained, and always learning, through workshops and conferences. We know our programs are working when we see the children invested in what they are doing.  Sometimes something didn’t work the way you thought it would or the children didn’t receive it the way you had intended; you chalk that up to experience and try again.
What are the environmental educators that work at Seven Ponds most inspired by?  
The children! And knowing we are doing something for the greater good -- something bigger than us.

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  • 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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