Chickens brought Chapin Kaynor to volunteer with Four Winds. That is the way he tells it.
The summer after retiring from a career in software development, Chapin Kaynor was asked to chicken-sit for his neighbor while she went on vacation. She was the mother of two young children in Allen Brook Elementary School with the Four Winds Nature Program in their classes. She told Chapin about the program and encouraged him to become a volunteer.
He began teaching Nature Program lessons in 2014 with K-4 classes at Allen Brook Elementary School in Williston. During his first year, he also volunteered at Essex Junction. Nearly ten years later he is still volunteering his time to bring The Nature Program to the students in his community.
Because of his longevity with the program, he’s had the opportunity to teach lessons from all five of the program’s year-long concepts more than once. His favorite memory of teaching was exploring stream ecology with the students.
“Their excitement to get into the brook and overturn stones in search of mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly larvae was so much fun to be a part of,” he shared.
Witnessing their excitement was only the beginning of what Chapin hopes will become a lifelong interest and curiosity in the natural world.
“It’s not about what they learn, but the connection to nature that is made.”
Chapin enjoys teaching and offering a connection with nature through each lesson. Returning to the same classes throughout the year, he has seen the children’s curiosity grow as they continue to learn. However, they aren’t the only ones.
“The parents grow, too,” he notes. “It’s as much about the parents and volunteers as it is about the kids.”
Chapin encourages anyone considering volunteering for Four Winds to do it. To him, the connections made with the students and the community are well worth it.
In addition to being a Four Winds volunteer, Chapin is a conservation volunteer in his community. He has worked extensively on a project near the school known as the “Tree Island Forest Park.” With the help of many community partners, they have planted dozens of native trees and removed several invasive species. You can read more about the project in this article.
When Chapin started he didn’t have a grandchild in the school, but that will change this upcoming year when his five-year-old grandson will join the kindergarten class in which he volunteers. He will also volunteer for two additional classes of third and fourth graders.
Thank you Chapin for volunteering your time, leadership, and naturalist skills in your community and with The Nature Program!