THE VISITING NATURALIST
In the winter, Gahagan’s educator travels to schools and libraries across northern Michigan to deliver a single-topic wildlife program called “The Visiting Naturalist”. The theme of this program rotates each year through one of four topics that each showcases a different group of predatory mammals: Wolf Songs, Cat Tales, Bear Tracks and WOW - the Wonder of Weasels. The program provides a rich learning experience to elementary-aged students and uses puppet shows, displays and hands-on activities to impress upon children the need for responsible stewardship of wild places and wild animals. Students are also able to touch and handle pelts, skulls and other natural props from the collection of educational materials that Gahagan developed with assistance from conservation groups like the National Wildlife Federation.
For the first 15 years of the program, the Visiting Naturalist was financed through generous funding from Kirtland Community College, which continues to sponsor it by providing pencils and stickers for each participating student. The funds raised through donations to the 2017 “Colwell Challenge” – initiated by Gahagan members Cliff and Carolyn Colwell – enabled us to offer the 2017 Visiting Naturalist Program to area schools free of charge.
+ Roscommon Area Public Schools
+ Houghton Lake Comm. Schools
+ Crawford AuSable Schools
+ Hale Public Schools
+ Johannesburg-Lewiston Schools
+ Mio AuSable Public Schools
+ Fairview Area Schools
+ West Branch Rose City Schools
Topics include the controversial cougar, the bobcat, the endangered Canada lynx, the extinct American lion and the famous saber-toothed cat.
Want to register your school or library with the Visiting Naturalist Program?
These presentations are fun and educational, while also emphasizing proper stewardship of our natural resources. Sessions include a puppet show, demonstrations, a large show-and-tell collection, and hands-on activities primarily aimed to engage children in grades K-8. The content of each presentation varies with grade-level, and has been developed with the current state science benchmarks in mind. These lessons are between 50 and 60 minutes and can be presented to a maximum of 60 people per session.
The cost of this program is primarily offset by funding provided by our contributors and may vary slightly from year to year. The program is generally available from January to May. If your school or library is interested in hosting the Visiting Naturalist for one or more sessions, please email us through the "contact us" button at the top of the page.