Rangers help kids spread their wings at Pocahontas State Park

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- This is, literally, hands-on learning. From little bugs to big snakes, kids are learning all about nature first-hand at Pocahontas State Park.

Today's lesson is called "Monarch Madness."

Chief Ranger Rebecca Whalen has the lesson plan laid out for a group of about 30 home schooled students.

"They'll start out as an egg, they have to drink nectar like an adult Monarch, and then we're going to migrate, walk, down to Mexico, or our pollinator garden", she said with a laugh.

Homeschoolers meet on the 3rd Monday of every month at Pocahontas, but Ranger Rebecca is busy teaching kids from public schools too.

"Oh gosh, yes.  We have field trips pretty much planned every day for the month of October.  We see everyone from pre-K to 8th graders to some high school classes who come out. "

While classroom time is important, Ranger Rebecca said it's nice to spread her wings a bit.

Parents like Kristen Campbell agree that it's a great way to learn.

"Absolutely!  I think they learn so much more when they can learn hands-on and you know, it's neat to read things out of a book, but to learn here and get to go through the process with the butterflies today, I think they'll learn a lot more," she said.

Ranger Rebecca hopes the kids will leave with more than just a lesson on butterflies.

"We have really cool stuff in our own backyard and it's very important that they go outside and play and discover that and just learn to protect it and appreciate it."

Building a love of nature... is Building Better Minds.

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