Ellen Bodin, Four Winds volunteer at Barstow Memorial School in Chittenden, playing with her grandson in the autumn leaves.
What’s a favorite story you have from volunteering with Four Winds?
I have two! In my earlier years doing The Nature Program, our class was down by East Creek at Barstow’s outdoor classroom. One of the children said she loves Four Winds because she loves being outside where she can hear the sound of the water.
Last year we were studying leaves, and I brought in a mullein leaf from home so kids could experience how soft and fuzzy it is. This one little boy loved the feel of the mullein leaf so much, and kept rubbing it against his skin. He asked if he could take it home to his mom because he knew she’d love it, too. He had such a connection to leaves that day.
Both of those stories really highlight the sensory experience of being outside. A lot of the time we’re using our sight, but here the children are really noticing sound and touch as well!
How did you start volunteering with Four Winds?
I saw a piece in the newspaper asking for volunteers, and I responded because I was new to Vermont and wanted to get involved in the community. I had experience teaching and tutoring, and wanted to be involved with children, combining that with my love of nature. I just feel that the more children learn about nature, the more they love it, and the more they care for it.
Four Winds seemed like a really great, multi-generational program to get kids outside. The Four Winds educator inspired me. She makes the trainings fun for volunteers and models really well what we will be doing in the classroom with the children. I’m in my 12th year now of volunteering, and I keep learning and keep seeing the joy when kids discover things about nature.