Just a week and a half ago Northfield was showered in sunshine on a balmy 63-degree day––a day that 12 elementary school students traipsed up to the Carleton farm. The Farm House backyard suddenly teemed with more than just plant life, as kids ran around screaming with unadulterated excitement and pleasure at the various natural curiosities they came across: A fuzzy caterpillar to feign horror at or enquire, “You think that’s real fur?” There were peppers they had never tried and berries to be warned against.
The Environmental Systems cohort led their annual Fall Fest Field Trip the other week, in collaboration with Green Thumbs, Art Sprouts, and Kids for Conservation. Fall Fest is one of the few opportunities for collaboration between all the environmental programs, even though Fellows and Program Directors all work with the same kids. While the Carleton facilitators visit the middle and elementary school all the time, this event is also the only time the kids get to come to Carleton as part of these programs. “A lot of times they will ask us questions about what Carleton is like, so it’s nice to be able to show them,” says Caro Carty ‘20, the key organizer for the trip. Caro, along with the rest of the Environmental Systems cohort and their PD’s, planned the afternoon to include an activity in the Arb, a scavenger hunt, bingo in the garden, vegetable tasting, and pumpkin painting.
All of these activities were structured to help the children celebrate fall and give them the chance to be outside. It was important to allocate time for an Arb walk, Caro notes, because, “even though the Arb is a beautiful space close to where the students go to school, a lot of times they don’t explore it. The Arb can be a bit restrictive in its use. So, we wanted to have them in there and talk about what they were seeing.” As for the programming that was gardening related, the Green Thumbs students often have a limited amount of time that they actually can spend outside gardening. Caro explains that, for this reason, “it was a special opportunity for them to see a lot of vegetables growing. It was very fun to have youthful energy on campus and to have the Arb be a place where people were having fun.” The kids were on school break and soon such outdoor activities will not be possible with the coming winter. Caro Carty, ever humble in their CCCE work, wraps up our discussion on a growth oriented note, “I hope they were able to engage with something in their local community that they maybe don’t see in their everyday lives.”