Jamestown, NY – Rachel Carson was a naturalist who wrote like a poet. Robert Frost was a poet who wrote about nature and science. Jamestown’s Roger Tory Peterson painted what he saw.
Two Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) staff have produced Rebel Nature Journal to lay the groundwork for its readers to learn to see and know their world like these well-known artist/naturalists, to engage with the world in a tangible way, and to express their experiences artistically.
With Projects Pool grant funding from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County, naturalist Katie Finch and artist Kimberly Turner created and published this gem of a book that focuses on the sights, sounds, feel and smell of the natural world and how to capture just a little bit of that on the page.
In August, Rebel Nature Journal was offered as a four-day camp for children ages 8 to 10 who were entering grades 3 through 5 in the fall. The journal was used to guide and record their experiences throughout the week. Campers learned how to strengthen their observation of the natural world using all of their senses.
“I was very curious to see how children would respond to it,” said Turner. “I noticed hesitation at first, with one camper asking, ‘Is this right? Am I doing it right?’” She said once the camper received reassuring words – “there is no right or wrong in this book, it is yours to do with what you wish” – his eyes lit up as he grabbed his marker and wildly added to his original marks. “As the preciousness of the book faded and kids didn’t think of pages as ‘assignments,’ the creativity began to flow. Knowing that ‘there is no wrong answer’ really opened their responses to the prompts.”
With topics like Senses, Shape & Form, Color, and Texture & Pattern, Rebel Nature Journal is meant for adults as well as children. It urges those who carry it to interact with nature in many ways. As the creators say on its cover, “The activities are intended to spark creativity while offering a fresh perspective of our world. We hope it develops a gratefulness for all our world has to offer – large or small, beautiful or ugly, familiar or unfamiliar.”
Finch and Turner hope that Rebel Nature Journal slows people down and allows them to build a stronger connection with the world around them. As Turner said, “Whether people use it while looking out their living room window, or they pack it along on a trip into the deep woods, it’s meant to meet them where they are and slowly ease them into a deeper relationship with earth.”
Kimberly Turner has a BFA in both Photography and Illustration from SUNY Fredonia and an MFA with a concentration in Photography from Indiana University Bloomington. Her work as an artist is heavily influenced by the natural world and the concept of collecting. Her day job is serving as administrative assistant and supervising animal care at ACNC.
Naturalist Katie Finch came to Audubon in 2011 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Recreation and Resource Management. Her previous work experience included doing interpretive programs with state and national parks. At ACNC her duties include school programs, day camp, public programs, and volunteer coordination.
Rebel Nature Journal can be purchased at Audubon’s Blue Heron Gift Shop. There is no admission fee for shopping, and Nature Center members receive a 10 percent discount on the many nature-related and handcrafted items.
With more than five miles of beautifully maintained trails, Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren, Pa. Open daily, its three-story building contains interactive displays, a collection of live animals, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop. One of the most visited exhibits is Liberty, a non-releasable bald eagle housed in her outdoor habitat behind the Nature Center. To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 during business hours or visit auduboncnc.org.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways.