Dallas might seem an unlikely city for a nature walk. With its fabled skyline, countless eateries, night spots and overall cosmopolitan sheen, the city doesn’t boast many natural trails.
Fortunately, the city’s own safari expert, Susan Campbell, Outreach Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, has uncovered a prime spot in east Dallas that’s ripe for exploration. But not for the likes of Jack Hannah or TV’s Crocodile Hunter. In this case, the adventurers are the students of Lakewood Elementary School.
As a parent of Lakewood students, Campbell was on the PTA board in charge of environment. She soon discovered a large creek area belonged to the school and was not in use. No stranger to creeks or nature trails — thanks to her “Science To Go” program at the Museum — Campbell and some parent volunteers cut a trail, marked it and put a knotted rope in it for kids to climb down into the wooded area.
“It feels like you’re in a different place,” says Campbell. “You can’t see anything but natural views. It’s heavily treed, quite jungly and is a great place to feel like you’re lost.”
Thus far, the Campbell’s nature walks have been a hit with both students and teachers at Lakewood Elementary. Campbell says classes are patiently waiting for their turn to explore the nearby wilderness and are often split in half to accommodate the number of volunteers and teachers. Fun is fun, but there’s still things to be learned from these creek trips, particularly natural history. One class wrote haiku poems describing the surroundings and scenery.
Campbell adds that among the other lessons learned in the creek is that “littering is bad” as she and her troops uncover many beer cans, lunch leftovers and other “urban archaeology.”
“A lot of kids who live in apartments don’t have a backyard to explore in,” she says. “They’ve never sat and watched ant lions trap ants. Here they can get down on their knees and see of this with someone who can point it out to them.”
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