Big (Green) Deal: TILT Event Educates Children on Compost

Originally written for the Watertown Daily Times by Amanda Taylor, who covered TILT’s (Com)Post-Halloween event at Zenda Farm Preserve over the weekend.

Christopher A. Nevala, 7, smashes leftover Halloween pumpkins with a mallet during the (Com)Post Halloween event at Zenda Farms in Clayton on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Amanda Morrison for the Watertown Daily Times.

TILT Event Educates Children on Compost

CLAYTON — Creating a manageable compost heap is not as difficult as many may believe.

“It’s quite simple and should not be intimidating to anyone,” Corinne M. Mockler said.

Ms. Mockler is the coordinator of education and outreach for the Thousand Islands Land Trust. The group organized a (Com)post Halloween on Saturday to educate children and their families on maintaining a compost heap.

“A lot of families have gardens, but we’re not sure how much kids are involved in the gardening or if they are aware of the fact that anything can be composted,” Ms. Mockler said.

People were invited to bring their leftover pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns to Zenda Farms at 38973 Zenda Road and smash them up in a wooden box with a shovel. The pumpkin pieces were combined with old leaves to create compost that will be used in the spring on TILT’s Community Garden.

“Who can resist? You get rid of grass, old jack-o’-lanterns and kids get to go around and smash stuff,” she said.

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Get Outdoors: A Recap of the 2012 TILT KidsTreks

Now that my first summer with TILT is winding to a close, I thought I would post a quick recap of my favorite part – the KidsTreks! While only part of my job as Coordinator of Education & Outreach, developing, organizing and then experiencing the KidsTreks was a major highlight. The participants’ enthusiasm was infectious and the parents were happy for fun and informative (and free) activities for their kid(s) to do outdoors. All four KidsTreks were booked weeks before they began, which confirmed that there is a major need for this sort of thing along the river. I also got to stretch my graphic design muscles by designing four distinct activity booklets as a keepsake from each trek. I’m not going to show the whole booklets here (stay tuned for the upcoming TILTKids section on the TILT website…), I will show the cover and a sample page. So now, without further ado:

WEEK 1: Art from Nature at the Zenda Farm Preserve

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Get Outdoors: Technology Meets Nature

Maybe it’s the former advertising student in me, but this masterfully done commercial perfectly marries technology and nature – something I believe is the solution to the nature deficit disorder problem!

Get Outdoors: The Problem with Environmental Education

Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />


Originally published in Orion magazine.

Look, Don’t Touch

The problem with environmental education
by David Sobel

THE KIDS HAVE BEEN UP since seven-thirty playing computer games and watching cartoons. What a travesty for them to be inside on such a beautiful day, you harrumph to yourself. On the refrigerator, you notice the schedule of events from the nearby nature center. “Let’s Get Face to Face with Flowers,” it beckons. Just the thing! It’s a sparkly May morning. Buds are bursting. There’s a warm breeze full of the aromatic scent of the woods just waking up.You trundle the kids into the minivan. They despondently consent. “Do we have to do a program? Programs are boring,” the older one complains. But as soon as you pull into the parking lot at Happy Hills Nature Center, their faces brighten. They fling the sliding door open and scamper down through the blossom-filled meadow to the shore of the pond. Ross, age seven, pulls off his sneakers and wades in, bent over searching for frogs. Amanda, age ten, plops down and starts making a dandelion tiara. What a good decision, you think to yourself.

Terri, the smiley naturalist wearing the official Happy Hills insigniaed staff shirt, saunters over. “Here for the flower program?” she chirps. “We’re meeting up in the Cozy Corner room to get started.”Ross asks, “Can Freddie come too?” holding up the fat green frog he has befriended.Terri’s bright face darkens a bit. “Sorry. Freddie needs to stay in the pond. Did you know the oils from your hands can make Freddie sick?” Continue reading

Communal Spirit: Your Vote Can Help Create a Nature Trail!

Dear Friends of F that S,

I’ve entered TILT in an online contest to win a $5,000 grant to help create a nature trail in our Otter Creek Preserve in Alexandria Bay, NY. The contest is sponsored by GOOD magazine and the voting period runs until August 3rd. So please vote here and then forward to anyone you think might be interested supporting land conservation and family nature outings!

Create a Nature Trail in the Otter Creek Preserve


Get Outdoors! Summer Activity Jars

Spotted this classic idea over at Pacifiers and Fruit Loops: Summer Activity Jar! While the idea seems to be all over the mommy-blogs, a summer activity jar could work for “big kids” as well! In fact, you could make one for every season…

From Pacifiers and Fruit Loops

From Sweet Jack

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Bookworm: A Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

Part of my new job with TILT is to create four exciting kids treks, each with a distinct slant on experiencing nature/conservation. Each trek will have an unique theme to the day, but what they’ll all have in common is the simple (but always successful) pairing of children and nature.

As someone who grew up without cable TV (and who’s one eventual form of electronic entertainment was a Commodore 64), I learned at an early age that if I wanted some amusement, I needed to head outside. Self-amusement, I should say, because it never took much to get my imagination going once I was out in the great wide open.

And that’s what drew me to Silent Spring author Rachel Carson’s book The Sense of Wonder. Mostly a photo book, and written in memoir fashion, Sense of Wonder is an account of Carson’s summers in Maine spent sharing the wonders of the natural world with her nephew Roger. Carson shares the light-hearted games they would play in the woods together (transforming pine saplings into Christmas trees for the squirrels, for example), but also her thoughts on choosing to focus on the natural curiosity that children posses about the world around them, and not to “ruin” it with lessons and goals. When allowed to experience nature in an unstructured, natural, way, kids are more likely to carry that positive connection with them into adulthood, where they can then pass those experiences on to the next generation.

There’s also a related film A Sense of Wonder, based on the play of the same name, written and performed by Kaiulani Lee. I’m about two years too late to catch this on PBS, so I’ll be tracking down the DVD and reviewing that separately at some point. For now, enjoy some quotes from the book, and let them inspire you to get outside today:

“It was hardly a conventional way to entertain one so young…but…we are continuing that sharing of adventure in the world of nature that we began in babyhood, and I think the results are good. The sharing includes nature in storm as well as calm, by night as well as day, and is based  on having fun together rather than teaching.”

“I have made no conscious effort to name plants or animals nor to explain to him, but have just expressed my own pleasure in what we see, calling his attention to this or that but only as I would share discoveries with an older person…I am sure no amount of drill would have implanted the names so firmly as just going through the woods in the spirit of two friends on an expedition of exciting discovery.”

“We have let Roger share our enjoyment of things people ordinarily deny children because they are inconvenient, interfering with bedtime, or involving wet clothing that has to be changed or mud that has to be cleaned off the rug.”

“A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods. I always thought so myself; the Maine woods never seem so fresh and alive as in wet weather…Now I know that for children, too, nature reserves some of her choice rewards for days when her mood may appear to be somber….I was glad to find Roger noticing and responding to the magic change in their appearance wrought by the rain.”

“I should ask that [the] gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and detachments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

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