All families deserve to have year round access to nature and nature education, but it’s not always easy, especially during these cold, winter months. One of our favorite places to take Footpath campers as well as our own families is Lake Erie Nature and Science Center (LENSC) in Bay Village, Ohio. This local nonprofit educates and inspires families to understand, appreciate and take responsibility for our natural universe.
The Center offers free admission seven days a week and provides important wildlife rehabilitation. They provide quality nature, environmental and science experiences through school field trips, programs for preschool, scouts and families, as well as planetarium education and nature hikes. LENSC is also home to a variety of wildlife exhibits and offers animal close encounters to eager learners! Their year round programming has been a great source of enrichment for so many and they’ve been an important partner for Footpath. They enable us to reach more kids who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and help to show them the wonders of nature all year.
LENSC Board Member, Footpath Friend, Girl Scout Leader and Cleveland native, Katie Colacarro, is a passionate advocate for nature education for all children. “LENSC is a gem in Northeast Ohio. My family has been attending programs there since they were babies. They’ve experienced their preschool, wildlife exhibits, planetarium, birthday parties, Girl Scout badge programs, summer camps – the list goes on and on. Beyond all of the paid programming, I love that access to the Center’s indoor and outdoor exhibits is free for all to attend. Now that I am on their Board, I appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making the Center operate effectively. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to give back after years of enjoying their programs.”
Angela Yeager is a LENSC educator and a Board Member of Footpath Foundation. She’s been an integral part of our partnership and knows first hand how nature education can help develop the whole child, reduce stress, build self-confidence and foster resiliency. “Working at Lake Erie Nature and Science Center has given me a profession where I can fulfill my own personal mission of helping children connect with nature. The supportive staff helped me transition from teaching high schoolers to preschoolers by giving me the tools and tricks to understand the needs of our youngest children. We’ve carefully designed age appropriate lessons for these kids that encourage a life long appreciation of nature.”
“I’ve had the joy of working with dedicated staff in an environment that fosters creativity. Many of the children recognize me as their camp counselor, or “that lady who showed them the owl” and they tell me detailed stories about the time we found a salamander under the log, or the day we built the giant bird wings and ran around wearing them. I also teach an after school Explorer’s Club that gives kids time to stretch their legs in nature while putting real scientist’s tools in their hands to learn about animals, space and conceptual physics. It’s been a joy to give children memorable experiences with nature through my work at LENSC, especially during a time when our youth are more disconnected from the natural world than ever!”
“My own children are growing up with fantastic preschool teachers thanks to LENSC and it is leaving their mark by helping cultivate a love of nature in them. Wild Things gives parents and children ages 1-5 a chance to reconnect in a stimulating nature-based class. My personal favorite of our programs is our 2 hour preschool program Nature Nuts. Ms. Teece and Ms. Amy combine over 50 years of experience teaching children and are more than just teachers of science and nature. They give preschoolers the tools they need for play, social interaction, managing emotions, and help with school readiness.”
It’s easy to see why Footpath is excited to work with LENSC to make more programs available for at-risk youth. “As Angela Yeager taught about the noises of a forest, a 10 year old boy turned to me and cheered ‘This is so much fun!’ with a smile from ear to ear. At that moment, it was reaffirmed to me that we are making a difference. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is an incredible organization, and we are so thankful to partner with them,” Mary Macias, Footpath Foundation President.
Take your family today and experience the wonder of nature over and over again! Become a member or schedule a visit by signing up to attend Footpath’s 2018 Camp Kit Event on May 19th where we will be collecting and organizing donations for Footpath campers, along with an expertly led family nature hike!