Willistown Conservation Trust
Inspiring tomorrow’s conservationists
Rushton Nature Keepers (RNK) is an elevation of the Trust’s traditional environmental education programs (formerly the Jr. Birding Club and Carrot Club) to a more visionary level. The primary goal is to provide youth (ages 7-12) with abundant opportunities to develop a meaningful relationship with nature, keeping in mind that it is these precious experiences that will fuel a lifelong desire to safeguard the environment. Therefore, RNK is focused on shaping and empowering these future conservationists while nurturing a spirit of discovery and wonder.
Rushton Nature Keepers offers an array of monthly events covering four themes including: birds and wildlife, sustainable farming, watersheds and healthy habitat.
The RNK Mission is to cultivate the foundation for a lifetime of caring about and protecting nature.
Our Objectives for Your Child:
- Create a conservation ethic by showing the importance of preserving open space.
- Connect personally to nature in order to foster a lifelong respect of the natural world.
- Nurture a spirit of discovery and wonder.
- Refine birding abilities and cultivate a wholesome lifelong hobby.
- Develop observation skills and understanding of science beyond the classroom.
- Recognize the connection of wildlife, sustainable farming and watersheds.
- Understand how people can help create and preserve healthy habitat
- Appreciate the origins of the food we eat, the rewards that come from a season on the farm, and how nature and agriculture can flourish side by side.
- Demonstrate the positive role humans can play in the natural world.
- Foster an awareness of how everyday personal choices can help the planet.
RNK Membership is $50/family for the year and includes all children in the family. Non-members pay on a per-program basis ($10 per child). Membership gets you free registration to any program on Signup Genius, a t-shirt per child and a nature journal per child. All programs are appropriate for kids ages 7-12*, but some are adaptable for younger or older kids as well; email Blake Goll ([email protected]) if you are concerned about the age appropriateness of a program.
*Please note that there are some family events on the schedule that kids of all ages including teens will be invited to attend including the Songbird Banding Open Houses (April 28 and September 15), the Warbler Walk at Ridley (April 29) and the Family Moth Party (June 15).
A Rushton Junior Naturalist badge will be awarded to Rushton Nature Keepers who attend a total of two bird programs, two farm programs, two water programs and one habitat program in one calendar year (for a total of 7 programs). They will also be invited to attend the Rushton Junior Naturalist Celebration in November in which prizes will be awarded. Each program will allow time for reflection in a nature journal in which children will receive attendance stamps to document their progression. Please see the RNK Events Schedule PDF, in which each event is designated with icons as covering one or more of the themes.
Sign-up: All sign-ups and membership payments occur through our Signup Genius site. Only list your children’s names on Signup Genius even if you plan to attend (with the exception of the membership slot) so we can get an accurate attendance estimate for each program.
You will receive an e-newsletter each month with information about upcoming events and summaries of last month’s events. Please double check whether you are signed up for events on Signup Genius. Space is limited, so if you can no longer attend, kindly remove your children’s name from Signup Genius or let us know so that others may take their place.
Cancellations: Reminders, special instructions or cancellations due to weather will come from Blake Goll ([email protected]).
Other Payments: All payments other than membership (i.e., individual program costs of $10/child for non-members or additional program costs) may be presented as cash or check in person or mailed to Willistown Conservation Trust (925 Providence Rd., Newtown Square, PA 19073).
Drop-off: Parents may choose to attend programs with their children or drop-off based on their individual needs. If intending to drop- off, please inform Blake Goll ([email protected]).
A Closer Look: The RNK Conservation Strategy
While each of the four themes of Rushton Nature Keepers is an important part of what we do here at Willistown Conservation Trust, the connection to land stewardship and land protection is the universal thread.
1. Birds and wildlife
Birds are the global heartbeat, connecting people across continents with their awe-inspiring migrations and providing the charismatic face that compels people to protect habitat. Our Rushton Woods Preserve is a hub of bird conservation, boasting the region’s premier bird banding station that attracts leaders in ornithology and inspires visitors to care about their avian neighbors.
2. Sustainable Farming
Sustainable farming is the way of the future and quite possibly the answer to feeding the world’s growing population. By taking care of soils first and minimizing overall impact on the land, organic methods have proven to be just as productive if not more than conventional methods. Rushton Farm is a leading model of farming methods that create and enhance habitat for native wildlife and pollinators while growing food for the community.
Watersheds are vital to all life and must be safeguarded through land conservation and sound environmental practices. Our partnership with Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences provides us with the tools we need to monitor the three watersheds we protect including Ridley, Crum and Darby Creek. We study all aspects of stream health including underwater insects that serve as indicators of water quality.
4. Healthy Habitat
Healthy habitat is not limited to conserved areas. With 40 million acres of the U.S. covered in lawns, a great place to start is your own backyard. The Trust has implemented a number of small-scale habitat restoration projects over the years, which serve as demos for landowners interested in supporting healthy habitat. For example, native wildflower meadows have been established to support native pollinators, stream sides have been planted with native trees for erosion control and native shrub habitats have been planted to support migratory birds.
Early Conservation Experiences for Teens
Opportunities exist on a case-by-case basis for children over 12 to get involved. These include service at the farm, working at the bird banding station, helping with watershed study activities, participating in bird counts and stream cleanups, internships or other projects agreed upon with Willistown Conservation Trust staff. To arrange, contact Blake Goll ([email protected]).
Nature Education Coordinator: For more information, please contact Blake Goll at 610-353-2562, ext.20 or [email protected]
The Willistown Conservation Trust is a non-profit land trust working to protect the rural beauty of the 28,000 acres surrounding Willistown, Pennsylvania. We're dedicated to permanently protecting our countryside from development and inspiring in people a lifelong love of the land and the natural world. Please visit our website to learn more about us, and subscribe to our bird blog to learn about what's been going on at our bird banding station this year.
Full RNK 2018 Program Guide