A local non-profit educational organization, located in the historic Price House on Wharton Street in Blacksburg, has a mission to inspire kids to learn about nature.
SEEDS, an acronym for Seek Education, Explore, DiScover, provides after school programs, summer camps, travel opportunities and supplemental curriculum, and it also operates the Blacksburg Nature Center from the Price House.
Its mission is to inspire kids’ love for learning and to grow future leaders through outdoor nature education, discovery learning and civic awareness.
The summer camps focus on nature exploration and education through play and are held throughout the summer for several different age groups.
Mike Rosenzweig, the founding director of SEEDS and summer camp instructor, said that he is clearing the path for other people to get involved in this program.
Some activities that campers have done include amphibian exploration, blueberry picking, swimming, learning about the water supply, cooking, visiting the farmers market and exercising a mock Town Council meeting.
Jared Gingrich, who has participated in the SEEDS summer camp and other programs at the Nature Center since he was a young child, said that it is a lot of fun and it allows them to go to many interesting places.
This year, Gingrich is helping out with the SEEDS camp for younger kids.
“I like it because it’s a lot like being a camper, but there are a lot more things I have to think about,” Gingrich said. “I have to think about how what I’m doing impacting the
Rosenzweig said that he learns a lot from the kids, which is one of many reasons the summer camps are important to him.
“Mike deserves a lot of credit,” SEEDS summer camp instructor Phyllis Newbill said. “He’s been doing this for 17 years.”
When Newbill first came to SEEDS, there was no camp for ages three to six, she said.
Newbill said Rosenzweig is open to expanding the non-profit in different directions, like making it available for that age group.
Newbill said she worries that many kids don’t spend enough time outside. She said that what people learn in childhood is usually the foundation of what they believe in as an adult.
“When you ask almost anybody about what they believe in most, they’ll say ‘when I was a kid,’ or ‘when I was growing up,’ so it’s very important what we do with them now while they’re three and five,” she said.
The camp Newbill teaches is almost entirely outside. There is story time, show and tell, snack time and playtime, and each day also includes a themed lesson.
“What I hope kids take away from camp is that you can spend an entire morning outside,” Newbill said, “It’s a place to live and be and do things.”
During their playtime, the instructors teach the campers how to analyze and enjoy the environment around them.
“We do encourage them to look and classify and compare, and those are major scientific skills,” Newbill said. “Its okay with me if a couple of slugs don’t make it so that kids become more friendly to slugs overall.”
Rosenzweig said camp activities vary from art to music to science and even civics.
“There are all kinds of ways you can learn about where you live and your surroundings,” said Rosenzweig.
SEEDS offers scholarships for their programs, which are year round and open to the community. The organization’s contributing partners are the Town of Blacksburg’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences Outreach program.
The last day of the summer field camps is August 10. A list of activities from September to May is on the SEEDS website, seedsguys.org.