A visit to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown ignited the imagination and enthusiasm of the Southdown Primary School students making the trek with teachers Amy Leinwand, Sarah Macaluso and Shelley Stockner.
The three faculty members were awarded a grant from the Huntington School District’s Special Education PTA, which covered costs associated with the trip. The youngsters were given “a wonderful educational opportunity to use their senses as they explored the nature preserve’s temperate forest and also discovered the wonders of a mock tropical rain forest,” Ms. Macaluso said. “They were introduced to the live resident animals as they used their senses to learn about the special traits of various reptiles, birds and mammals while hiking through the preserve.”
Sweetbriar provides educational programs for people of all ages. From metamorphosis and butterflies to the tropical rain forest and predator/prey relationships, the center offers a thriving learning atmosphere.
“Our programs are designed to involve participants through the use of live animals, hands-on activities and interactive experiences,” according to Sweetbriar’s website. “It is our hope that all visitors will gain a better understanding and respect for the natural world.”
A private, not-for-profit corporation, Sweetbriar’s mission is to offer natural science education and native wildlife rehabilitation services.
Now in its 45th year, Sweetbriar’s 54 acres are filled with garden, woodland, wetland and field animal habitats on the Nissequogue River. “Hundreds of plants and animals make homes here,” the group’s website states.
The sprawling preserve fascinated the Southdown students. “They took a trek through a mock rain forest and met live animals ending with a fun, participatory activity to learn about the various types of life found in a real tropical rain forest,” Ms. Macaluso said. “Thank you SEPTA for all that you do for the children of Huntington School District and a special thanks from Mrs. Leinwand’s class.”
The youngsters had so much fun they didn’t want to leave Sweetbriar’s friendly confines.