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CREC Student and teacher are master naturalists

(Hartford, Conn.) Ariana Patterson of South Windsor, a senior at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering and a former student at CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, is now a certified master naturalist. She is the first high school student ever certified in the state by the Friends of Goodwin Forest and CT Parks and Recreation Association. Ed Smith of Andover, a 15-year exploratory science teacher at CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, joins her.

The naturalist program included a mix of indoor classroom presentations and outdoor, hands-on field sessions where they learned to identify, interpret, and understand key ecological Connecticut’s natural resources through education and service. Both Patterson and Smith were apprentice naturalists before taking additional training on Saturdays to become master naturalists. "The master naturalist program was an incredible opportunity to connect with and learn from leading scientists and educators from a variety of biological, ecological and geological fields,” Smith said. “No other program I know of would let me spend 12 Saturdays with such a diverse group of experts. We even got to explore Plum Island, which is off limits to the public, and where our group found the first Native American artifact from the island, a carved stone weight used for primitive fishing nets.“This amazing opportunity may be available to the Capitol Region Education Council community, teachers, and advanced high school students in a few years," he said. Smith will also co-lead the next master naturalist program.

Patterson currently coaches a Connecticut Envirothon team. She is passionate about forestry and soils, and is committed to the concept of sustainability. She plans to study environmental science and policy in college.

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