Last week, our grade five students had the chance to participate in some meaningful service learning that was a win-win situation for all involved. Through Bart Dankaerts, our service learning coordinator, grade five was put in connection with the organization Staatsbosbeheer, who work on, and protect, the nature park Lentevreugd situated on the edge of Wassenaar.
The park warden Hugo Woudenberg (who has a wealth of knowledge and experience) let us know that he would love to enlist our help again. The aim would be to work on preserving the area and preparing it for the coming brooding season for birds and butterflies. The long term goal is to see the return of song-birds to the area.
Later this year in science class we will be using examples from this ecosystem to discuss the interdependence of food chains and the negative impact humans can have on food webs and chains if we are not careful. What a wonderful opportunity this was for us to make real-life curriculum connections and also put something back into the environment. This is right at the core of our wishes for service learning.
Thanks to willing and able parent helpers, we were able to bike to nearby Lentevreugd to offer our 5th graders’ energy, enthusiasm, and plain hard work. With the help of Hugo and a number of local community volunteers, the fifth graders were able to rake the cut grass into piles, before forking it into wheelbarrows or onto tarpaulins to be transported away to be composted. We learned that removing some of the 'aggressive' dune grasses will help to encourage a wider bio-diversity in the area. Our hope is that many different grass sorts can flourish, which should encourage a wider variety of small insects, which in turn becomes a food source for nesting birds.
The students were amazing! From the moment they arrived at Lentevreugd, some wet from the rain shower that they had just biked through, they literally and metaphorically rolled up their sleeves and got to work with a sense of purpose, energy, and enthusiasm. The time flew past and the students were disappointed to leave, but proud of what they had achieved. We hope to return to Lentevreud in the spring to spend a science lesson observing biodiversity first hand and hopefully the fruits of our labor.