Students, staff enjoy day at Taft Campus


Chana Education Center visited Lorado Taft Field Campus with a mission to explore the woods. 

On April 22, students and staff spent the day learning about the various animals and plants in our native Illinois forests and the relationships that they have with each other. Groups started out with various activities to encourage them to take a closer look at the world around them. They went on scavenger hunts to locate items typically found in the woods such as fungi and lichens, and nuts and seeds. They matched paint swatches to colors of various trees, flowers, and rocks. They also walked through a dried gully to look for fossil patterns in limestone rock. 

In the afternoon, the students joined together and participated in a real-life scenario of predator and prey. Students were split into groups of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores and had to locate food and water supplies without getting "eaten" or hunted. Students used a variety of strategies to survive including camouflage, teamwork, and sharing resources. 

Student, Alex Fuentes, shared with her group leader that she saw the forest as more than just "a bunch of trees." When she was looking for items on her scavenger hunt, she was startled to come across a bullsnake awakening from hibernation. 

"I've never seen a snake in the wild like that!" she said. 

Another student, Jarrett Christiansen, was excited to share how he used camouflage to successfully evade the hunter during the predator-prey game. He crouched low to the ground and used the area tall grasses to conceal him. 

"No one saw me even though they walked right by!" he said.  

This trip was made possible with funding from the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant Program awarded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Conservation Foundation. More than $88,000 in donated funds was awarded to 100 recipients throughout Illinois. Chana Education Center was approved up to $910 to pay for the costs of students attending the day-long learning experience at Taft.