Ultimate Journey Teaches Members the Importance of Protecting the Environment
As part of our mission to ensure great futures for young people, it is critical to give today’s youth the knowledge and skills they need to tackle a growing number of serious environmental issues. Ultimate Journey, a STEM program developed in partnership with the National Park Service, employs fun, experiential activities that cultivate an awareness and appreciation of the natural wonders that surround young people and expose members to aspects of environmental stewardship, including conserving natural and cultural resources.
During a recent lesson at our Brooklyn O’Malley Club, staff opened with a video on birds and how they interact with the environment. The video included beautiful images of nature and interesting facts about birds, outlining different species and what makes them unique, such as how they eat and move. Kalyn, 8, learned that “flamingos can run faster than humans,” while Micah, 6, found out that “bluebirds dig holes to find food.” After the video, staff led an art activity where kids constructed their own birds out of construction paper. Members were able to decorate their birds however they chose, complete with feathers and googly eyes. Some members were inspired by the birds they saw in the video, while others created something completely new.
To complement their classroom experience, Ultimate Journey connects youth with local resources, such as parks and green spaces, where they can enjoy the outdoors and take part in healthy outdoor activities. A few weeks later, Club members took their new knowledge of birds and the environment on a field trip to Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills. Staff at the nature center led members through a short hike, highlighting interesting animals, rocks, and trees along the way. Members learned about some basic concepts of nature, such as what it means for an animal to be a predator or prey and different habitats. At the end of the hike, nature center staff brought out several different animals. The highlight for many of the members was the owl, but they also enjoyed the diamondback snake and frogs.