Forestry for Fifth Graders - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Forestry for Fifth Graders

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KINCAID LAKE - The weather's so nice out that a short recess wasn't nearly long enough for students in Rapides Parish. So the Louisiana Forestry Association found a way to get kids outdoors and let them keep learning.

News Channel 5's Kathleen Witte went out to Kincaid Lake today to find out what nature was teaching.

Fifth grader Rylie Roberts can't believe he gets to play outside on a Wednesday morning.

"Better than school," says Rylie.

But he says it is a little like school--because he's learning, too.

Rylie and his classmates from Lessie Moore Elementary are just some of the 800 fifth graders attending Forest Awareness Week.

"It's very different," Rylie says. "Because most of the stuff you learn out here, you won't learn in a classroom."

The students spend all day by Kincaid Lake, rotating through stations like forest products, wildlife, forest management, and even fire prevention.

And they're learning from the experts.

Janet Tompkins is the coordinator of the event. She works for the Louisiana Forestry Association. "We have all kinds of soil scientists, foresters, wildlife biologists," she says. "All that work together so the kids learn something."

Coordinators say, they're helping preserve the forest by getting young people interested. But the kids are getting something out of it, too.

"It's good to see these kids have an outdoor experience," Tompkins says. "That whole thing about getting the kids outdoors and away from the video games. This is one day when they'll go back satisfied, exhausted."

And even the teachers win. Every class goes home with a guide to apply these hands-on lessons to the pencil-and-paper standardized tests.

"It's good to have outside support to help us with this," says Julie Martin, fifth grade teacher at Lessie Moore. "Because inside the classroom it can get boring at times. But when we have outside support that can show the kids hands-on, it really does help us, and it gets the kids enthused again. Gives them a little boost of energy."

Rylie Roberts says he had fun today, but he also learned a lot in nature's classroom.

"It's better because sometimes I'm not able to understand in class," Rylie says. "And being outside will help me out a lot."

The coordinators are already planning the spring Forest Awareness Week, that will take place at Indian Creek.

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