Blog

31 July 2022

Nature is Alive at John Heinz


Written by: Karla Sofia Garcia


When you work at the John Heinz NWR Refuge, you don’t just do one thing.

As an Environmental Education Intern, I have had the wonderful opportunity to learn archery, release native species of turtles, install a brand-new entrance sign, table at off-site events, work with the organization of the refuge’s 50th anniversary, and best of all, create genuine connections with the Southwest Philadelphia community.  I had the opportunity to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show (which is where I am pictured holding a butterfly), where I helped kids make colorful butterfly wings! I have also been able to witness first-hand the wonder and curiosity that kids have for nature, as I helped lead various educational programs meant to build on and expand local students’ knowledge of the environment. One of my favorite activities was oriented towards understanding trees and how they age. When you cut a tree’s trunk horizontally, it can tell you how many years that tree has lived, and whether those years have been “good” or “bad”; good meaning of significant growth, and bad suggesting a colder winter or a year of drought that didn’t allow the tree to flourish as much. We then had the kids make tree rings of their own years of life. The concentration the kids had, and their subsequent and newfound understanding for nature was beautiful to witness. In this moment, a lot of the kids understood that trees and other plants lived a life full of experiences, despite being grounded in one place. This shows just how important it is to connect urban communities with their surrounding natural ecosystems; an appreciation for nature leads to a better world, a world with respect and empathy for all life. It is clear that John Heinz is making this difference, one kid at a time.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

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