Mix together dirt, water, paint and a bunch of toddlers at Evergreen Lake, and you get an hour of wet, messy fun.
Nine children ages 2 to 5 gathered outside the Nature Center to learn about the fish that live in the lake. They learned that the lake is stocked with trout each year, and that the fish lay their eggs on the lake bottom.
They painted pictures, they used straws to blow bubbles in containers of Evergreen Lake water and they tried to “paint” using a straw and the water.
Most of all, they had a fabulous time.
Vanessa Hayes, the Nature Center’s executive director, taught the Wild Ones: Fish Life class, which is held monthly for 2- to 5-year-olds each summer. She asked the children to stand at the edge of the lake and dig in the lake’s bottom to see what they could find. They splashed and dug using small plastic shovels and pails.
Two-year-old Maddie Woulfe really loves the water, according to her mom K.C., so much so that K.C. held tightly to the back of Maddie’s brown sundress while Maddie dug.
Two-year-old Oliver Rogers stared intently as his mom helped him “paint” a picture. It actually was a white-crayon drawing, and when the paper was painted with water colors, the trout magically appeared.
The monthly Wild Ones classes are to help teach youngsters at an early age about the environment, Hayes said.
Oliver’s mom, Katy, said the Wild Ones classes let the toddlers explore nature.
Jennifer Johnson came to the class with her two children, Rowan, 4, and Declan, 2. The idea to participate really was the idea of Lynn Jinks, the boys’ grandmother.
Jinks, a retired teacher, said it was a perfect day to be outside at the lake, and she was learning things about fish, too.
“Look at how much fun they’re having,” she said.
Jennifer Johnson said she wanted her children to explore their surroundings, an opportunity this class provided.
Rowan, who was busy digging in the lake, said he learned about fish, and his favorite activity in the class was digging in the water.
Hayes spoke with the children about all the people who liked to fish in the lake, and she gave them an ecology lesson. She said sometimes people leave their fishing lines around the lake, and birds and other animals get tangled, which is harmful.
“This year,” she said, “the Evergreen Nature Center is putting these funny looking things around the lake,” while she held up a white tube. “Any time you see fishing line outside in a bush or on the ground or near the lake, if you pick it up and put it in these containers, you’re saving animals’ lives.”