by Bailey Zook

As summer days start getting shorter and the temperatures begin to drop, metaphorical butterflies start to flutter inside my chest. The school year is beginning and I am so looking forward to getting back to teaching. Not only do I get the opportunity to go into 20 different classrooms in and around Missoula for the Visiting Naturalist in the Schools program, but I also get to work with a group of witty, intelligent, clever, and curious homeschool students!

homeschool students doing a winter science experiment

Last year, the Homeschool Naturalists group covered “Naturalists as Scientists.” It was an incredible year full of fascinating projects, experiments, and exploration. During the 2017-2018 school year we we will shift our focus to study “Naturalists as Artists.” Part of the excitement for the coming year is the mystery…what kind of artists will we become?

Each month we will cover a different naturalist topic and explore the ways that art can help us to connect to those topics. We will paint, draw, mold, dance, sing, and generally create our way through the 2017-2018 school year. Though all ages and grade levels of homeschool students are invited and welcome to join us, we do ask that parents of students still learning to read and write stay to help their child with these portions of the lessons.

Our meetings will be based at the Montana Natural History Center and will begin at 10 a.m. on September 16 and continue on the third Friday of each month through April. We have limited space, so please be sure to preregister at least 24 hours in advance to secure a spot! To register for the full 8 lessons and secure your child’s spot for the year, the cost is $40 per child or $100 for three or more children. If you prefer to join us on a month-by-month basis, the cost will be $7 per child or $18 for three or more children.

Our topics this year include:

September: What is a Naturalist?
October: Leaves
November: Pollination
December: Atmosphere
January: Minerals and Rocks
February: Raptors
March: Birds
April: Glacial Lake Missoula

As we are focusing on art this year, there is a lot of room for interpretation and sharing. Please let us know if your child has special talents they may be interested in sharing with the group! We are really looking forward to the new school year and getting to learn and explore with our Missoula-area homeschool students!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns by email at bzook [at] montananaturalist [dot] org or by phone at 406.327.0405 ext. 208.

~Bailey Zook, Teaching Naturalist