Students work hands on at bosque

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Every Child Outside Learning About Bosque is a part of the Friends of the Bosque program that meets at San Antonio Elementary School.

Andrea Brophy, environmental education coordinator, is working with John Ray Dennis' second- and third-grade classes at San Antonio Elementary School for the school year. The program, which was new in September, has students go to the Bosque del Apache Refuge and the Mineral Museum at New Mexico Tech from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Thursday, she said. Brophy worked ECOLAB last year, and said students in fourth grade go to her and tell her how much they miss the program because it was a good experience and they had a good time.

"I am teaching them science hands-on in the field with school standards and curriculum," Brophy said. "They learn by observing and collecting data."

Brophy teaches students the different aspects of the refuge and the environmental ecosystem in the middle Rio Grande Valley. The program has different projects with rocks and minerals. Some of the projects with ECOLAB include digging in the salt and mineral bed, and in the next unit they will be observing the wildlife, she said. Students also learn about biology and its habitat, adaptation and guard wells with precipitation and the weather, she said.

"I get to teach the kids two years in a row. It makes a huge impact and it's beneficial," Brophy said.

Dennis' second- and third-grade classes have 19 students year-round. He is involved and a huge help and a great teacher in the success of the program, she said. According to the ECOLAB website, the program is about creating a relationship in a natural place, and new things can always be revealed and learned by taking the time to observe and enjoy.

"I like noticing their enthusiasm when we get outside, learning hands-on they get excited," Brophy said. "I like hearing what they do and don't remember from last year. I can see them grow, learn and mature; it's cool."