Burchfield students take advantage of outdoor classroom

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For a dozen years, third-grade classes from Burchfield Primary School in Colusa have been visiting the same ranch just outside of Arbuckle.

It’s a tradition that started with a single third-grade class in 2004, belonging to Burchfield teacher Katy Myers, and a handful of volunteers from her family.

“It was started because the (academic) standards focus so much on reading and math, and not so much on history and science,” Myers, now retired as a teacher but still in charge of Pond Day, said.

A hands-on approach to learning, with a curriculum focused on the region’s ecology and history — coupled with some fishing, boat rides, and other fun activities — was the result.

Over the years, Pond Day has expanded to include all Burchfield’s third-grade classes, volunteers from the community and juniors and seniors in Colusa High School’s Environmental Science Academy (ESA). 120 Burchfield third-graders took part this year, with between 45-50 ESA students volunteering to help.

Other groups have gotten involved as well, and as more groups have gotten involved, the curriculum has further expanded: Representatives from the Colusa County Arts Council, for example, were on hand to help teach an art unit; Colusa County Strength and Conditioning taught students about physical fitness.

“Everything, every activity out here has a purpose,” Myers said. “We fine tune the activity’s year to year.”

Since year one, there have been some mainstays including fishing, boat rides around the pond, crafting t shirts with fish and  the “Valley Vista.”

The final event, which allows kids to observe and learn about the different regions of California to meet a social studies standard, was a favorite of one of the third-graders there.

“I’d say the truck driving (was the best), because we ran down hills and had to find stuff. We even found some animal bones,” Cade Smith said as he was eating a snack and watching his bobber on the fish pond. “It was really fun.”

3(Top) Burchfield third grade student, Cade Smith gets ready to fish as he and his fellow classmates get instructions from former Colusa High teacher and ESA Advisor Craig Richards.

(Left) Students check out earthworms at the Burchfield Pond Day.

(Right) A group of third graders learn to microscopes as part of the pond day activities last week.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net