‘Kids’ Fair’ at Leach pollinates nature-learning ideas

See how much fun learning about nature was, at this annual outer East Portland event …

This year’s Children’s Nature Fair at Leach Botanical Garden again provides activities that are so fun, kids don’t realize they’re learning about botany and biology.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The “Near Meadow” of Leach Botanical garden was abuzz with activities for families on May 20, as once again volunteers hosted the annual Children’s Nature Fair.

Live folk music wafted over the outdoor event space, while excited children ran from exhibit to exhibit, looking at the displays and participating in a variety of hands-on activities.

First time Leach Garden volunteer JoAnn Vrilakas helps kids match seeds with the foods that grow from them.

Taking a brief break during the fair are Leach Botanical Gardens Education Coordinator Janice Jenkins, and Volunteer Coordinator Annie Winn.

“This special yearly event, that’s been held for at least the last two decades, is where we get kids to enjoy being outside with nature activities,” said Leach Botanical Gardens Education Coordinator Janice Jenkins.

“This year’s theme is ‘Traveling Seeds’; guests are learning all about seeds through arts and crafts,” Jenkins told East Portland News. “One of the good things about the fair is that it inspires families to outside in nature.”

Back again this year, Ron Goodwin is the ringmaster for the event’s famous “Slug Races”.

Meeting one of the Famous Belmont Goats – this one is named Bamby – are Alison Briggs-Ungerer, and three year old Joey.

“Here, families are outside playing, enjoying something other than sports, and far better for them than playing on computers or video games indoors,” Jenkins remarked. “We have plants, animals like goats – and people get to be out in the sunshine!

“It’s good to learn about the different things that are out here in nature,” Jenkins went on. “Because we chose seeds, they’re learning more just about plants.”

At the Zenger Farms booth, looking at chickens are Michael Ross, Aubrey, and big sister Emma.

It takes a lot of volunteers to put this on, she said. “With our partners – the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Zenger Farm, Friends of Outdoor School, Portland Parks & Recreation, the Oregon Zoo ‘Zap Team’ – as well as our volunteers, we have about 50 people giving of their time to be here today.”

The best part of the day, for her, Jenkins said, is being with the kids and watching them discover nature. “It’s especially rewarding for us, because many of our visitors are so young – from toddlers to ten years of age – really, the best time to get them started exploring nature, so that hopefully they’ll carry this childhood fascination through into adulthood.”

25-cent cones, anyone? Julie Ma, Linda Hu, and Katie Goodwin are scooping ice cream for guests.

Learn more about those May activities at Leach Botanical Garden by visiting their website: CLICK HERE.

> On our Front Page: Emma Haas looks intently at a seed pod during the Children’s Nature Fair.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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