This mission statement is accomplished in a variety of ways.
One of the most inspiring parts of New Pond Farm is our work with area schools. 5,000 children venture to the Education Center each year for hands-on field trips that bring their classroom studies to life and connect them in a meaningful way to the natural world. From our inception, our enthusiastic staff has embraced the opportunity to inspire students to learn about our local ecosystems, to make meaningful connections so they will want to become responsible stewards. In recent years we have formally joined the national “No Child Left Inside Coalition” and we know that our efforts in environmental education combat the much studied and documented “nature deficit disorder.”
Our Environmental Programs take place in our outstanding outdoor classrooms. Freshwater Explorations take place in our pond, marsh and stream. Students, perch on our boardwalk and scoop up dragonfly nymphs, tadpoles, water striders and more, while learning about their many adaptations and behaviors. Habitat Hunts inspire hands-on explorations that reveal the differences between the woodlands, pastures and wetlands. When students get excited about the natural world and develop understandings, they become better stewards of their environment.
Our Farm Programs help students to learn how food production is tied to the farm. All too often when we ask children where food comes from they reply, “The grocery store!” When children arrive at New Pond Farm, they become farmers, in our milking barn they brush a dairy cow and learn how she produces milk, they learn how her manure fertilizes our pastures, which in turn gives us the hay they see her eating. They enter our coop and observe chicken behavior and they hold newly laid, warm egg that is gathered from a laying box. Outside they watch as members of the flock take dust baths and scratch for food. They learn about our sheep and work with lanolin covered fleece to spin a piece of yarn that becomes a bracelet. In the spring, they learn about our honeybees and the vital role our colonies play in pollination. During the growing season our bountiful gardens illustrate where their vegetables come from.
Our Native American programs, take place on our woodland trails and at our authentically recreated encampment, complete with wigwam, longhouse, firepit and stretching rack. We focus on the lifeways of the Eastern Woodland Indians that once inhabited these lands. Students learn how these native people survived using their knowledge of the environment and skills they developed and passed down through the generations.
Our Astronomy programs give participants a personal view of the Universe. As a wonderful complement to programs focusing on environmental awareness and appreciation of life here on Earth, astronomy program participants observe the wonders of the cosmos first hand through optical telescopes. Participants also hear about the latest developments in the science of astronomy which provide clues to the mysteries of our own origins and those of our home planet.
The Arts are also celebrated on the farm. Because our Founder, Carmen Mathews, got her theatrical start as a Shakespearean actress, we offer dynamic Shakespeare programs for both middle and high school actors. Each winter we are pleased to host play readings in our Gathering Place, which is transformed into a Blackbox Theatre. Every other spring the Learning Center is transformed into an art gallery with stunning works by area artists that celebrate the flora and fauna of the farm and the surrounding area.