The boys in my environmental education classes are instantly attracted to worms. The
girls, on the other hand, need about five minutes to overcome the assumption that they are supposed to find worms icky and gross. After that, peer pressure kicks in, and they’re off on a dare. Young children love sensory experiences, and pink earthworms, with their slimy, wiggly bodies, provide just that. Add a shimmery puddle or crumbly garden soil, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
On a recent trip to the Arboretum’s Funshine Garden, a group of kindergartners took their sense of critter adventure one step further. Not only were they clamoring to be the first to pull out long, gleaming earthworms from beneath tree stump stools, but they were actually fighting over handfuls of fat, naked grubs. I watched with a mingled sense of admiration and revulsion.
Admiration won out. Nature is full of the beautiful and the grotesque, and sometimes it takes the youngest naturalists to remind us that both are worthy of wonder.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator