Here is the perspective of Ellen Putnam, Four Winds Nature Program volunteer and coordinator for 22 years in Piermont, NH.

Once, during a Four Winds Nature Program Calling All Owls lesson: “There was a little one who said, ‘I am not touching that!’ when she realized that an owl pellet was something that an owl had hacked up. She was very clear that she would have no part in touching it. She said, ‘I’ll look, but I’m not touching that.’

Very gradually, as other students around her were saying, ‘Look what I found, look what I found!’ she kept leaning closer. Before too long she said, ‘I want to put the bones on the paper where they’re drawn.’ Then she wanted to help with removing some of the fluff from the bones. She ended up participating completely because she saw how much interest her classmates were showing and how fun and really cool this activity was. 

When we got all done and we were sharing what we had learned or what felt special for us in that lesson, she said, ‘I am a brave girl, and I touched the bones!’ and she went on about what she had found. 

We all have our limits, and one of the things that I try really hard to do is to not share with the students the things that make me squeamish, like snakes and spiders. I really don’t want to be around them. They’re fascinating, but I don’t really want to look at them, and I know I don’t want to touch them. I don’t tell the students that because I don’t want to visit my feelings on to them. 

It’s about giving children the time, space and opportunity to figure it out for themselves. It makes a huge difference for them.” – Ellen Putman

Speaking of owls, see if you can spot the barred owl in this photo!

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