What I learned on my trip to the Conservation Fair

What I learned on my trip to the Conservation Fair is that I have a very carrying whisper of “shhhh.”

Let me take a moment to offer some advice to you, just in case you ever decide to host a conservation fair for K-4th grade students. Please make all of the activities available to all of the students. If you are going to have cows available for petting please allow time for all students to pet the cows. If you follow this simple rule then children will not scare your cow by rushing over in a crowd to pet it when they are walking past to go count the number of rings in a slice of tree-trunk.

If there are any bleachers to sit on then 7-year-olds will want to sit on the top [and most unsafe] row. They will then prefer to put their bottoms where their feet are supposed to go so that they can swing their legs underneath the bleachers. This gives teachers heart attacks. Students will then realize that it is the most hilarious thing in the world to “accidentally” lose their shoes underneath the bleachers. They will then learn that under no circumstances will I allow them to climb under said bleachers to collect said shoes until the end of the presentation. Tears will not move me.

Another thing that I learned while leading 17 7-year-olds on a field trip to the conservation fair is that 7-year-olds will not stop talking during a presentation about injured birds. They will be especially talkative if the injured birds are there in person, flapping their wings, and pooping on the floor. They will also run up to the front to ask a question if their raised hand is ignored for too long.

[I heard a teacher from a different school mutter to her friend “Where’s that child’s teacher?” When the student ran up front. At first this comment made me feel embarrassed. Then I got to thinking – what did she want me to do? Tackle the child from 20 feet away before she got from the front row to the person speaking?]

If you are offering a Hay-Ride at your conservation fair then please be sure to allow all students the opportunity to ride in it. If it is simply impossible to allow each student a turn on the ride then please do not allow it to traipse past my class as they try to figure out if a seal is a land or sea animal. They will not appreciate this grandstanding. Do not allow the students on the ride to wave at the students not on the ride. They may cry.

When the 17 7-year-olds realize that there is a bee near them when they sit to eat lunch they will run and scream. They will not care if there are 435 other school children in the vicinity. Or easily-upset horses and injured birds.

An invaluable asset on a field trip, especially if your head-teacher is absent, is a parent volunteer. Volunteers will take care of their own children so you don’t have to. Theoretically. When this theory is tested it does not hold water. No offense. Kids like to show off to their parents all the things they can do at school. One of these things includes never listening to teacher instruction. Yay.

When you bring a class of 17 7-year-olds on a trip to the conservation fair it is very exciting to have a performance by a mime. However, if the mime promises one student in 500 a prize for answering one question at the end of the performance then you are going to have a war on your hands. Children will rush forward, push each-other out of the way, and scream the answer – whether they were listening to the question or not. They will not accept that the prize has been claimed until they are on the bus. Even if the prize was only a very tiny, blue marble.

Upon returning from the conservation fair it is very important for students to write in journals about all the things that they learned on the trip. It is best for teachers not to read many of these journals. At times they may question whether their pounding headaches and new sunburns were worth the trip.

Teachers are disappointed not to get to go on Hay Rides too.

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