Back to nature

June 18th, 2015 10:24 am

First Posted: 2/9/2015

DALTON — A local educator will go on a week-long field trip of her own this summer, thanks to a scholarship awarded her by the National Audubon Society.

Megan Wolfe, 56, of Dalton, was awarded $495 to attend the historic Hog Island Audubon Camp in Breman, Maine, where she will join ornithologists, naturalists and other educators for a six-day camp session in July.

The kindergarten through eighth-grade science teacher said one thing she looks forward to about the camp is “being together with other professionals who value outdoor education and who see the value of it as greater than the challenges.”

“It’s a re-charge to be with people who care about the same things you do,” she said, “and to be in a beautiful outdoor setting, to remind you of what your inspiration is.”

After graduating from Abington Heights High School, Wolfe earned a degree in art history from Kutztown University and her teaching certification from Marywood University. She also took several environmental science courses at various institutions.

From 1987 to 1989, she taught first-grade science and English at a bi-lingual school in Ecuador. While there, she was involved in a group of mountain climbers, with whom she climbed Mount Cotopaxi. On weekends, she visited different natural areas, rain forests and the Galapagos Islands, where she was fascinated by the vastness of the different species of birds.

One of her favorite memories from teaching in Ecuador is taking her students outdoors to feed vegetables to the Galapagos tortoises that lived in the woods near the school.

In 1990, she began her current teaching position at what is now Howard Gardner MI Charter School in Scranton and her favorite aspect of teaching is still introducing students to nature and the great outdoors. She is even able to take the seventh and eighth-graders on a kayak trip from Mehoopany to Tunkhannock each year, to “show them that there are a lot of fun things that you can do outside.”

“My favorite venue to teach in is an outdoor classroom,” she said. “And it’s personally important to me to teach environmental science.

“It’s also important at this point in history, I think, to be able to teach environmental science in a positive way, because there are a lot of things that are not positive that are happening to the environment — like climate change, pollution, invasive species — and I want to be able to teach children that it’s still worthwhile to care and to try and make a difference.”

She also places a high value in helping people make informed and respectful choices, getting involved in legislation by corresponding with political representatives and supporting local environmental groups, such as Lackawanna State Park, Lackawanna River Corridor Association, Countryside Conservancy and Delaware Valley Raptor Center.

When she was in college, Wolfe worked a summer job at Spring Hills Farm in Dalton, where she sheered Christmas trees. She enjoyed working outdoors and remembers it as a “quiet” job.

“There were insects, there were birds,” she remembered. “We would find a bird’s nest in a tree, and then we would avoid that tree.”

But her passion for nature started even earlier than that.

When she was 2 years old, her family moved to the home in which she grew up on North Abington Road, across from what was then the Parker Hill Dairy Farm.

“There was a cow pasture behind the house, and fields,” she said. “I always liked watching all kinds of animals and we had a bird feeder and in the wintertime, especially, when a lot of animals aren’t as easily visible because of hibernation, you could always see red cardinals, blue jays and hear the songs of chickadees.”

And it is partially those memories which ignite her passion to share the same joys with her young students today.