Nature’s Classroom opens doors to community
THONOTOSASSA - Ask almost any current or former sixth-grader in the Hillsborough County public school system about Nature’s Classroom and you’ll most likely get an earful of praise. That’s because they’ve all been to the site with classmates and experienced firsthand the wonders of nature through its environmental studies program, which is especially geared for children their age. “It’s something that kids who come talk about for years to come,” said Missy Laycock, a secretary who’s worked at Nature’s Classroom for 10 years. She encourages adults and children to take a look around and learn why most youngsters find it so fascinating.From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 13 and 14 Nature’s Classroom is celebrating its annual Woods, Water and Wildlife open house. Longtime Nature’s Classroom teacher Chris Rusnak believes there is no greater way to learn about and enjoy nature than to get up close and personal with it. Exhibitors and environmental experts from Big Cat Rescue, Lowry Park Zoo, the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, the Florida Environmental Protection Commission and the Southwest Florida Water Management District will be on site. Attractions also include child-specific activities, live music, native Florida animals for visitors to view and touch, a chance to explore the Hillsborough River shoreline in search of aquatic critters, and displays of nature paintings and photography by award-winning student artists from throughout the county. Hamburgers, hot dogs and cold drinks also will be for sale. “It’s a great family outing and a way to showcase what we do with sixth-graders in Hillsborough County,” Laycock said. The event is free but parking costs $5. Nature’s Classroom at 13100 Verges Road, off Morris Bridge Road, 1.5 miles east of the East Fletcher Avenue exit off Interstate 75. Call (813) 987-6969 for more information.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.