The New Mexico Alliance for Children and the U.S. Forest Service sponsored their annual field trip for all of the Region IX Head Start students to Smokey’s Garden in Ruidoso.
The kids visited the Ranger Station on Mechem Drive to plant the children’s garden, which the Rangers tend and harvest over the summer months. All of the produce is donated to the Lincoln County Food Bank.
It’s always a lot of fun for the children and for all of us. This year, about 75 three and four-year-olds participated in storytelling, art, gardening, and a nature walk. The children made fruit and veggie print paintings and a hand print mural. They learned the caterpillar song and listened to “The Diary of a Worm” and stories about butterflies and other garden critters.
In the garden, they planted the raised beds, learned how to make a potato bed, and also planted pole beans, squash, and sweet peas in recycled egg carton containers to take home. They learned about worm farming from a local organic farmer—and of course, Smokey Bear made a special guest appearance. Afterwards, the kids enjoyed a healthy picnic lunch in the garden. Photos are attached.
Eight staff and volunteers from the New Mexico Alliance for Children planned and coordinated the activities, along with the Rangers and Head Start teachers. Funding for the project was provided in part through the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
(The author is executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Children)