When children get excited about something educational it’s an awesome sight. Their eyes light up as their imaginations run wild. So it was when a group of Southdown Primary School students recently visited the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.
The youngsters were led by teachers Shelley Stockner, Sarah Macaluso and Colleen Simko. Huntington’s Special Education PTA (SEPTA) awarded the three veteran educators a grant to fund a field trip to the Sweetbriar preserve.
The second graders in Mrs. Simko’s class enjoyed the opportunity to participate in fun hands-on activities and interactive experiences throughout the extensive grounds. “They explored the treasures of a mock tropical rain forest and hiked through the temperate forest,” Ms. Macaluso said. “They were introduced to the live resident animals and used their senses to learn about the special traits of various reptiles, birds and mammals in these unique ecosystems. These engaging activities kept the children learning throughout the day.”
Sweetbriar provides educational programs for people of all ages. From metamorphosis and butterflies to the tropical rain forest and predator/prey relationships, the center offers a thriving learning atmosphere.
“Our programs are designed to involve participants through the use of live animals, hands-on activities and interactive experiences,” according to Sweetbriar’s website. “It is our hope that all visitors will gain a better understanding and respect for the natural world.”
A private, not-for-profit corporation, Sweetbriar’s mission is to offer natural science education and native wildlife rehabilitation services.
Now in its 46th year, Sweetbriar’s 54 acres are filled with garden, woodland, wetland and field animal habitats on the Nissequogue River. “Hundreds of plants and animals make homes here,” the group’s website states.
“Educational trips such as these make a lasting impact on their education and future careers,” Mrs. Macaluso said. “It makes them more engaged, intellectually curious and interested both in and out of school. Thank you SEPTA for awarding us a grant for this amazing trip!”