Exciting Plants?

Being injured, I have become trapped in my house. After about five hours of the TV life, and finishing a book, I came to the conclusion that I was stir crazy and needed to do something. I thought about my looming camp season, and my personal lack of knowledge about native plants and animals in Kentucky that were not poisonous. So, I decided it was time to make myself a booklet about the unique plants and animals, things that would interest my girls.

From the University of Kentucky Horticulture Department

Ecological regions of Kentucky, from the University of Kentucky Horticulture Department

I’m an environmental studies major at my school, and want to go into outdoor education. So, I do recognize that while this type of thing is appealing to me, most 13 year old girls find plants, trees, and animals that cannot kill them boring. I figured I was in luck though when I stumbled on the fact that the origin of the name for the Pennyroyal region in Kentucky, which one of our camps is named after, came from a herb we could find on camp property! I knew that connecting the plants to their knowledge would excite the girls. I also discovered more information about the armadillos of Kentucky. I mean, that’s such a random creature, who wouldn’t be excited about that!

Goldenrod, the state plant of Kentucky

Goldenrod, the state plant of Kentucky

However, that was kind of it. There were no lesson plans on teaching kids about plants and animals. No fun activities, outside of a scavenger hunt at the University of Kentucky. Nothing, besides an extensive list of trees, and lots of information about the Cottonmouth (a very poisonous snake found in Kentucky). I found a couple very helpful websites about ecology in Kentucky designed for teachers, but that said there was really no set plans for teaching this topic. I grew up in Kentucky, and am oblivious to what is around me. And, it seems the rest of the state is as well.



Outdoor education really needs to be implemented into schools. This is absurd that no one has developed this field further. And, while it has given a mission for my house-trapped self, it disappoints me. We should be embracing our natural environment, and even though I’m trying, I can barely scratch the surface.


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