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For the Eyes of Kids

A few of the 45 Kente Public School kids wait for others to join us before enjoying a guided hike at Little Bluff Conservation Area. Photo by Terry Sprague

It isn’t often that I do conducted events for school groups. I will turn 66 in December, and I find their energy a bit depressing. I can’t keep up with them. And I always seem to miss my noon nap. However, I like Kente Public School and the kids there seem to be really environmentally tuned into things. So, it was on a rainy Wednesday that I found myself escorting a bus load of them to several conservation areas. Their eyesight is remarkable. Some would say it is because their eyes are lower to the ground. It could be because I have trouble focussing on objects that are near without my glasses, or maybe, as a birder, I haven’t yet trained my eyes to stay out of the branches. Whatever the reason, one young lad was the first to find a tiny ring-necked snake at Little Bluff and we had fun passing it around for all to see, and hear the girls screaming, then we put it back where it had been found. They found other things that day too – everything quite small – and it was a treat to see this kind of interest in all things natural. We need more interest like this, especially from kids, for they will be the ones who are challenged with saving what few species we have left after our generation has succeeded in eradicating much of what we have now. And we need eyes that ferret out the often overlooked, seemingly insignificant things in Nature. The eyes of kids are keen – sometimes too keen. The teacher and I were some distance behind the bus and decided to make a quick stop at Black River Cheese for ice cream. We consumed our contraband quickly and caught up to the bus at our next stop, to a chorus of loud voices all chiming at once through the open bus windows, “WE WANT OUR ICE CREAM!”

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Louisa says:

    Great story Terry. Kudos to you for keeping up with such a crowd of youngsters…I know just how you feel! So typical about the ice cream, but can you really blame them? Are there any pics of that ring-necked snake you can post here?

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