SFA outdoor classroom helps students learn about bugs, bees, bu - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SFA outdoor classroom helps students learn about bugs, bees, butterflies, blossoms

(Source: KTRE Staff) (Source: KTRE Staff)
(Source: KTRE Staff) (Source: KTRE Staff)
(Source: KTRE Staff) (Source: KTRE Staff)
(Source: KTRE Staff) (Source: KTRE Staff)

How time flies when you are having fun. That's what a Stephen F. Austin State University professor of elementary education thought all this week at an outdoor education program he's been putting on since 1998.  

The outdoor education program is making a lot of children happier and smarter.

Bugs, bees, butterflies, and blossoms. When they're all said together, they're a mouthful - like the honey kids tasted Friday.

The outdoor education program became the brainchild of Dr. Alan Sowards, an SFA professor of elementary education, almost 17 years ago. 

"We do 16 classes in the morning. We do 16 classes in the afternoon," Sowards said. "Five days, 3,200 first and kindergarten and second grade students." 

At one station, Soward's daughter, Hanna, was teaching. She's grown up with bugs, bees, butterflies and blossoms and is better for it. 

"I have a whole new appreciation for him. I really do," said Hanna Sowards, a senior education student at SFA. The hours. You have to love it. You have to have a passion for it and so the kids are great though. The kids make it fun and make you want to be here every day." 

Teachers reserve spots early in the year. They call it one of the best field trips offered.

"We've been studying insects in our classrooms all week, so it's a good outdoor activity to learn more about what we've studying in the classroom," said Paula Rawls, an elementary teacher at Huntington ISD. 

And it's a whole lot more fun. 

At the end of the week, Sowards says he has a good tired feeling just knowing all the work paid off. 

"They're so kind to tell me how an impact this had and the reason they're here now because they had the opportunity to do this when they were going to school, so that's very pleasing as a professor," Sowards said.

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