HomepageEnvironment and SustainabilityElementary School Students visit Food Forest to Learn about Lenape Culturally Important Plants

Elementary School Students visit Food Forest to Learn about Lenape Culturally Important Plants

The joy, kindness, and energy your students brought to the day made such a big impact on the third-graders.    - L. Plunkett

Over two days this past week, students in Dr. Hurley’s Sustainability in the Suburbs capstone class hosted 53 third graders on a field trip from the Friends Select School in Philadelphia at the Food Forest. Friends students learned about the cultural importance of plants on site from capstone students at seven different stations. Focusing on uses ranging from materials, such as for canoe-making and making fishing nets, to food sources, such as pawpaw and cranberries, the elementary schoolers got to see, smell, and touch a variety of species. In the process, third graders had the opportunity to understand how local ecosystems provide a wealth of resources, to encounter the Lenape language and see corresponding plants in person, and critically to see members of the Delaware Tribe on their recent visit as active participants in stewardship and knowledge sharing. Visit to tulip poplar and clustered mountain mint plants featured Tribal members’ visits to the site and engagements with these plants. 

To help our visitors better understand the dynamic nature of the forest, Ursinus capstone students used bamboo poles to illustrate the future height of our still young pawpaw trees. To make the theme of use real for the third-graders, Friends students got to help harvest red aronia berries to share with their teachers. The berries will be use to make cookie bars later this fall to share with the students.

The hope is that this field trip by the Friends School Third Grade will become a regular feature of both fall and spring field trips for the students, as they continue to learn about the biocultural and Lenape-specific dimensions of native species. Teachers Bianca Adger, Liz Plunkett, and Alicia Ronquillo, along with Friends Librarian, were critical and supportive partners in helping the capstone students and Dr. Hurley develop a series of interactive stations to pilot on this first visit ever by any school group to the Food Forest. This entire process empowered capstone students to become Teachers for the day and more critically think about ways to engage diverse audiences with and at the site.

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