Activities that expose people to nature have been shown to improve health and happiness and are a great way to educate through exploration and discovery. They are also just plain fun! The Bureau of Recreation’s Earth Explorers program aims to expose youth to the nature right in the City of Rochester by getting them outside and interacting with the natural world around them.
From the Genesee River Gorge and its breathtaking cataracts, to the hundreds of acres of parkland, to the lakefront where the mighty Genesee reaches Lake Ontario, we have very real nature right in the midst of the city. The 200,000 Rochester residents share this environment with an astounding array of plants and animals-- from rabbits and bald eagles to the earthworms under our feet--much of which exists hidden from city residents because they don't really know where or how to look for it!
The Earth Explorers program encourages youth to find nature in their own backyard. Some days, that means working in a garden at the center. Other days, we’re playing a game of Frisbee in snowshoes. A garden or open field serves as a wonderful outdoor classroom, where youth learn while staying engaged and active.
Over 10 different Community and Recreation Centers around the city run a weekly Earth Explorers program year round, where kids can:
- Learn to snowshoe
- Geocache using a GPS
- Observe the life cycle of a plant by starting seeds and caring for the plant throughout the season
- Hike through surrounding park systems
- Learn gardening basics by growing plants in center gardens
- Make a birdhouse.
- Experiment cooking with various foods grown in and around the Rochester area
- Create nature crafts
- Get the opportunity to have fun and explore outdoors!
We also offer opportunities for further exploration with monthly field trips to unique places in and outside the city limits - they might descend into the nearby Genesee Gorge to see the salmon swimming upriver in the fall, explore the maze of trails at Mendon Ponds Park, see the hard work that goes into running a farm or learn how to tap a maple tree for syrup.
A Horse’s Friend
Through a partnership with local organization A Horse’s Friend, Earth Explorers participants from centers around the city can travel out to Highview Farms in Pittsford, N.Y., once a week to participate in a six-week session to learn about horses. While at the farm, kids have the opportunity to interact with the over 20 horses housed at the farm, learning both how to care for and ride a horse. With over 100 acres of land, Highview Farms also offers the opportunity for trail rides on horseback and exploration into woods and swamps.
For more information
To learn more about the Earth Explorers program and activities coming up at your local Community and Recreation Center, call 428-6770, or email the Earth Explorers Coordinator.