Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Nature Trip.(Final)

Byline: Story by Andrea Schoellkopf Photographs by Dean Hanson * Of the Journal

Los Padillas Elementary 6th-graders learn about the natural world on field trip to wildlife refuge

Twelve-year-old Salvador Diaz stares at a tattered piece of cardboard that hangs on a small desert brush. Where did it come from?

Did it come from nearby Interstate 25?

Did animals use it for nesting?

"It seemed like they fell asleep in there," Diaz says, pointing to a hole in the bush.

His observations are part of a class field trip that's teaching Los Padillas Elementary students about the natural world.

Twice a year, Diaz's sixth-grade class makes the 50-mile trip to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, a former cattle ranch now open for environmental research under the operation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"This is like being in class, but you're outside," says a boy wearing a Kings baseball hat.

Marianna Padilla, a nature instructor working with the school, begins the lesson with a story about a boy who "doesn't fit into his environment" and creates a new one in his back yard. Students, sitting under a tree, draw or write their impressions in their journals as she reads. …

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