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Muraco School fifth graders recently went for an instructive nature walk on the Middlesex Fells Long Pond Trail. COURTESY PHOTO/TINIE NOORDZIJ

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Muraco School fifth graders recently went for an instructive nature walk on the Middlesex Fells Long Pond Trail, led by Winchester Trails guides. This is a longtime tradition, and the volunteers who organize Winchester Trails are helpers among us.

Winchester Trails was formed in 1968 at the request of the then-school superintendent. A small group of interested women educated themselves further and even published nature guides of all local conservation areas.

Winchester Trails guide Nancy Lin takes Muraco School fifth graders on a walk through the Middlesex Fells Reservation. COURTESY PHOTO/TINIE NOORDZIJ

At present, Winchester Trails offers spring and fall walks on the Long Pond Trail for fourth and fifth graders at all five elementary schools. The goal is to instill a sense of wonder and curiosity through education and exposure, so that our next generation will be good stewards of natural areas.

The emphasis of the two-hour walk, during school hours, is on rocks and rock formation, signs of the glacial period, nature as it developed over the years after the ice melted, relationships, food chains and food webs, wildlife, insects, birds, life in the pond and vernal pool, all concurring with the science curriculum of the grade level.

The Muraco fifth graders were enthusiastic: they learned a lot about plants and their defenses, ecosystems of the forest, pond and wetlands and they saw small pond critters they had never seen before.

A few Winchester Trails guides also offer seasonal bird and nature walks for the public through Friends of the Fells. Information can be found online on the calendar of Friends of The Middlesex Fells.

Muraco School fifth graders check out the ecosystem in the Middlesex Fells with guide Phil Coonley. COURTESY PHOTO/TINIE NOORDZIJ

For more information about becoming an active member of Winchester Trails, contact Felicity Tuttle at wchop0000@aol.com. Extensive prior nature knowledge is not necessary, only eagerness to learn and share that learning with young students.

Tinie Noordzij is a Winchester Trails guide.

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