Children tromp through Canastota’s Great Swamp
CANASTOTA — ”Thank you for letting me get muddy.”
This is what children had to say after participating in the Great Swamp Conservancy’s popular Swamp Tromp, an activity where kids can explore the wetland and the creatures who live there, shared Great Swamp Director Rusty Patane.
The latest group of trompers hit the mud Friday to uncover a host of different swamp species — potential finds include dragonfly larvae, snails, frogs, crayfish and tadpoles among other creatures.
Going no further than ankle deep in the water, children receive instruction on how to use their nets to discover specimens. If they catch something that moves, the specimen goes into an examination pail for environmental educators to identify and provide insight on its role in the swamp ecosystem.
Various plant species are also highlighted as they are seen.
Quantitative information is investigated, too, Patane shared, depending on what is caught.
Why are there so many dragonfly larvae but not so many tadpoles? Who eats whom? Questions like these and more can be explored.
This hands-on learning expedition has taken place at the Great Swamp for more than 20 years as part of its field trip programming with local schools. Recently, the activity has been offered during the organization’s summer programming to welcome area children for some out-of-school exploration.
Kids love the unique opportunity, and they love trudging through the mud, especially since not everyone has a wetland in their backyard, Patane said. “You could do it 100 times and they would still say ‘yes, I want to do this,’” she laughed.
Being in a swamp is bound to be messy. Sometimes, boots get sucked into the mud even when feet keep walking. A slip or a slide has happened on occasion. And the kids just love it, Patane remarked.
“It’s about getting out into the natural world. It’s so good for the mind, body, and soul,” she remarked.
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