Wagner Ranch Nature Area Provides Joy for Children in the Outdoors

(William Hudson, Photographer)
Ayla Montane (standing) and Sabrina Sellers pause for a minute on a valley oak that fell during a storm, while walking the trails of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area, along with their guided group Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

    Once again, the voices of children floated over the trails and along the stream at the historic Wagner Ranch Nature Area, as students played outdoor games, made nature crafts and explored the ponds and woods.
    COVID-19 pandemic guidelines dictated suspension of traditional outdoor programs for the District’s third through fifth graders, but people stepped up to offer viable alternatives.
    Forty-year veteran Naturalist Toris Jaeger, with the encouragement of the Orinda Union School District and help of the Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area (FWRNA), restructured the environmental investigations for small groups of seven children per day. Retired teachers and nature aides, Mary Welte, Kim Curiel, Lilana Spindler and Evonne Morici helped lead these pilot programs on four select Saturdays.
    Students wore masks, maintained six feet from each other and brought their own refillable water bottle, snack and lunch. The activities for “Nature Days,” like all FWRNA programs, align with the California State Standards for Science and History/Social Science and Environmental Education.
    The personnel involved felt thrilled to support the local student population in this way, during this unprecedented time. The positive feedback from students and parents ensured that people involved will look to bringing the program back in the spring.

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