Kids tune in to the wonders of nature at hidden outer East Portland garden

See how ‚Äì and why ‚Äì the Leach Botanical Garden’s Children’s Nature Fair “hooks” kids on learning about nature ‚Ķ

David Christenson with little Marcella and Vincent being checked in by volunteer Ann Kracke. “It is a beautiful day,” David told us. “This is our first time coming out to the Botanical Garden. It is nearby, so we thought we’d come to see the Children’s Nature Fair. They’ll see insects, bugs and animals. It is good for them to learn more about our world ‚Äì this gives them a hand-on experience.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
How can Mother Nature possibly compete with cable-TV and X-Box?

“We doing it by holding an annual Children’s Nature Fair,” said Katie Goodwin, spokesperson for Leach Botanical Garden.

Captivating the kids by spinning a tale about a spider is Ann Found, a professional storyteller, and Leach’s volunteer coordinator.

“We’ve been doing this for several years,” she added, “We have crafts of all kinds; making bookmarks using pressed flowers, leaf rubbings, and sun prints, and making necklaces and planting plants. We have slug races. And, our volunteer coordinator is a professional storyteller. Kids say she’s better than movies!”

Using the “rubbing” technique to make a greeting card with a dog on it is third-grader Tori Phillips, with a little help from her mom, Vickie.

150 attend this growing fair
This event has grown over the years, Goodwin remarked. More than 20 volunteers help with the crafts, and take families on tours around the garden property.

Why do this?

“Children are the future,” Goodwin extolled. “The future depends on how we take care of our environment; that which is around us. We hope we help the young generation gain an appreciation for what is here now, so they’ll maintain this garden, and the planet, in the future.”

Her hopes are already being met. While visiting the fair, we talked with parents, who, as children, attended their first Nature Fairs years ago – and are now returning to Leach Gardens with their own kids.

Leach Botanical Garden is located on SE 122nd Avenue just south of Foster Road, and is open most days.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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