Getting the Most Out of a Field Study to Hard Bargain Farm

By Becky Williams

In my role as Naturalist/Educator for Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, I look forward to my visits to school classrooms both before and after the students come to the Farm for a two day field study.

As I arrive at the school office, I hear, “the lady is here from the Farm” or “the kids are really excited about coming to the Farm!”   I am often carrying a large bag of “trash” for the Trash Timeline activity in which we discuss how long it takes for common items of “trash” to decompose.  The activity helps introduce students to concepts they will learn at the farm, including decomposition and the energy cycle.  The activity also prepares students for their challenge to bring a Trash Free Lunch on their trip; often, this concept is new to the students, yet they embrace the challenge.

As I begin to learn what the students already know and what they need to know for their trip, I am struck by their excitement and willingness to explore a new setting, gather eggs, hike for 2 hours and have a campfire.  Often I work with the groups at the farm and am able to reflect back on the previsit, as we share these experiences.

When I return for the post visit after their field study, I am able to reinforce what they’ve learned through our Food Chain/Energy Cycle activity that expands their interest in concepts learned at the Farm. This lesson develops a feeling of empowerment and responsibility in their roles in their environment.

As a former teacher, I believe these classroom visits (before and after the field study) both augment and reinforce the learning and teaching potential of the field study.  I encourage teachers to take advantage of these outreach opportunities!

For more information and how you can participate in Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center Outreach please contact Sara Campbell at [email protected].