On the morning of April 30th the 6th grade welcomed our third and final guest speaker for the schoolyear in our Service Learning theme of Animal Rights, Jennifer Leahey from the local non-profit, ‘Nature Matters’. Nature Matters Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit which fosters the understanding and appreciation for our natural world, and the need for its conservation, through direct experiences with animals and the outdoors.
Mrs. Leahey spoke to the class about her work as a wildlife rehabilitator and educator, and had several furry and feathered friends on hand for us to meet and observe!
Through her presentation we learned of the path that she took to create this impactful and original organization. Mrs. Leahey is a licensed animal educator in the state of Massachsetts, in fact, her particular license was created specifically for her as had never existed in the state before! She is an example of what one can do when we set our minds and hearts to a cause and follow through with dedication and perseverance. Her presentation was inspirational and informative, and helps the students to see and learn first hand the difference that an individual with determination can do and make in this world.
Here are some of the memorable experiences from her visit . . .
We met Kenny the skunk, who was born domesticated and thus can’t be released into the wild. Kenny now spends his day with the Leahey family and is part of Nature Matters in educating children on wildlife and their habits.
We were also lucky to meet Otto, an adult red-tailed hawk, who was hit by a car and suffered a brain injury that has left half of his body paralyzed. Otto wouldn’t survive in the wild, so lives in captivity at the Leahey Farm in Lee. It was amazing being able to see him up close, being an animal we normally only see from afar.
She brought three different species of turtles including a Russian tortoise that was raised in capitivity and his owner no longer could care him – we also met a baby snapping turtle that was found in a shopping center parking lot.
Jennifer brought a 15-day old pigeon that was born in captivity and helps to educate children on the unique relationship and important role that pigeons play and have played with humans throughout history.
Each of these endearing encounters with the animals was an up close and personal view of domestic and wild animals in the mission to educate the students on the importance of respecting and understanding them and their natural environment.
Mrs. Leahey’s visit was an enlightening and exciting way to wrap up our year-long Service Learning project, on which the 6th graders have been working tirelessly, with our different initiatives such as bake sales and animal food and supply drives.
Throughout our entire Service Learning project, an underlying theme has been surrounding the education and understanding of animals, and what is required when we commit to having animals in our lives. All three of our guests emphasized this aspect of education and interaction with animals.
It is an important lesson to instill in the students and will help them to make conscious decisions about their role in the lives of animals in the future, whether directly, through family pets, or indirectly, in encounters with wildlife.
For more information about Nature Matters, please visit the Facebook page to learn more about the organization and it’s impact in our community! Jennifer also hosts after-school programs in the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. Please inquire for more details!
Enjoy this sunny day!
Best, Madame Daire