Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hollibrook Students Hoot, Twitter with Mentors at Sanctuary

A Hollibrook Elementary student uses pieces of bread to attract mosquito fish, then catch them in his net.
More than 20 Hollibrook Elementary mentors and their mentees enjoyed an outing earlier this month to the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Hoots and twitters were heard from the students (and the resident birds, turtles and frogs) as groups were lead through the sanctuary trails by Audubon Society docents.

The majority of the mentors in attendance participate in the SpringBoard Mentoring Program through their affiliation with Memorial Drive United Methodist Church (MDUMC), which is adjacent to the nature sanctuary.

During the school year, mentors meet one-on-one with their mentees during the students’ lunch periods at school. They normally spend time chatting, playing games, doing puzzles, reading, drawing pictures and other friendly activities. These friendships grow in depth each year, and most mentors follow their mentees from grade to grade, all the way to graduation and beyond.

“We see relationships get stronger whenever mentors and mentees get out of the school routine during an outing like this,” said Becky Wuerth, SBISD community relations specialist who works with recruiting and training new mentors for the SpringBoard program. Wuerth is also a mentor at Hollibrook, and she and her mentee, Emeraude, had a terrific experience at the nature sanctuary.

“My friends back at school told me this trip would probably be boring,” said Emeraude. “But, no way! This is awesome. I love it here.”

Julie Eisenhauer is the mentor coordinator for MDUMC and planned the wonderful “outside-the-school-walls” experience for the Hollibrook mentors and mentees, with help from Cindy Rojas and Juan Sosa from the school.

A Hollibrook Elementary student points out an insect she’s discovered.
During this year’s annual field trip to the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary, the mentor and mentee duos learned about the ecology of the forest, creek and ponds, getting a close up look at birds with binoculars and the fish through magnifying containers. The third- through fifth-grade students got to feed the mosquito fish in the pond, and attempt to catch some with nets.

Eisenhauer’s mentee was intrigued by a container of various animal skins in the sanctuary’s Nature Center, which is the log cabin where Edith Moore lived from 1932-1975. Mentee Sharahi took pictures of her classmates with the skins because, she said, “they are all so different looking and feeling.”

“All of the students had a great time, and for many of them, this was the first time they have been outside their apartment complexes,” said Rojas, Community in Schools social worker at Hollibrook. “One mentee told me he couldn’t believe he was still in Houston, and that he felt he was in ‘another country’.”

This is a wonderful experience for our students,” said counselor Sosa. “In Spring Branch ISD we encourage individuals to never stop growing and learning, and this type of event provides an opportunity for our children to unleash their potential by interacting with nature and expanding their knowledge through hands-on activities. It was fascinating to see the kid’s faces as they touch and feel arthropods inside the log cabin. I didn’t hesitate to take a picture and tweeting “limitless curiosity to the fullest potential!”

Following the tour of the nature sanctuary, the group was treated to a taco lunch at MDUMC’s youth center. The bashing of a piƱata was a fun post-lunch activity for the students.

The students returned to school energized and refreshed from the visit to the great outdoors with their mentors. Hoot, hoot hooray for MDUMC for making this outing possible!


Post a Comment

Do you have feedback? Tell us.