MDC partners with Kansas City Public Schools for fourth grade nature classes

News from the region
Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – They touched harmless live snakes and turtles and examined bird beaks and skulls, probably for the first time. Students from the Benjamin Banneker Elementary School on March 12 kicked off a new partnership this spring between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Kansas City Public Schools.

About 1,000 fourth grade students are expected to visit the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in the coming weeks. The “oh wow” moments range from nature crafts and wildlife encounters to a hike in the Discovery Center’s native plant garden. They climbed on logs in the garden’s nature play area during a break, and a few tried their hand at climbing up small trees.

“They are enjoying themselves,” said Michelle Abubakar, a Banneker classroom teacher. “They are experiencing being outside in nature. They are excited about the animals inside (the center), especially the snapping turtle. It’s something they need to have exposure to.”

MDC’s education program is entitled Staying Alive and refers to adaptations that birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish have made over eons to survive, such as the beaks woodpeckers have to punch holes in trees to find insects to eat.

“Our goal is to introduce them to nature and conservation,” said Claudine Lamb, MDC regional education supervisor. “We want them to know a forest is something they can touch, and it is not just something in a book.”

The Gorman Discovery Center is at 4750 Troost Ave. in the heart of the city and near many of the elementary schools that will participate in the program.

“Quality learning comes from great experiences, and we’re looking forward to an amazing partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation that focuses on providing our students and families with essential nature education that reaches outside the bounds of the classroom,” said Dr. Jennifer Collier, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools. “The world is meant to be explored and enjoyed. We are grateful for MDC’s vision in sharing those incredible hands-on experiences with our children.”

The Gorman Discovery Center offers education programs year-round for school groups and adults. For more information, call 816-759-7300 or visit