“Holiday Wreath Rendezvous” Unites Voyage of Teachers' Academy Graduates

On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, Forest Park Forever welcomed 40 alumni teachers from the Voyage of Learning Teachers' Academy for the second “Holiday Wreath Rendezvous.” At this fun, interactive event participants worked with Forest Park Forever staff to make and decorate holiday wreaths made of completely natural materials found in Forest Park. The teachers brought these wreaths home at the end of the evening, for their own personal or school use.

“I was once again blown away by the creative diversity in the room,” said Jean Turney, Forest Park Forever Education Coordinator. "First there is the diversity of plants that have been collected from the Park: tall, fluffy grasses combined with dried seed heads and boughs of holly. Each one is beautiful in its own right but matched with the others, just spectacular. And then there is the diversity of creations. You could see traditional wreaths of green with red berries as well as swags of grasses and dried flowers to decorate a mantle or serve as a centerpiece. It was a great reminder that everyone, young and old, enjoys playing with nature, and that is the heart of the Voyager program: connecting people with nature.”

“The Voyage of Learning Teachers’ Academy has greatly enhanced the value of my life,” said Jeanne Carbone, a retired teacher of 28 years, who attended the event. “There’s a part of Voyagers’ that changes and connects you to the earth around you. Once you’ve combined that with teaching you have a captive audience to share these experiences with. Sharing that love of nature has kept me grounded and allowed me to give lessons that are bigger than just teaching.”

This past July, 27 teachers representing 12 school districts in the metro St. Louis area took off on a great adventure with the Forest Park Forever Voyage of Learning Teacher’s Academy. On this expedition, participants were guided by curiosity, inquiry and discovery. Unlike a typical classroom course of study, this experience offers the opportunity to overcome fears, build confidence, recharge enthusiasm, learn team building, see the value of reflection and develop a deep connection with Forest Park. For teachers, the awe and wonder inspired by Forest Park and expert program leadership can jumpstart a paradigm shift in their teaching and help them better prepare their students to be active and engaged participants in 21st century decision making and careers. Since its creation in 2000, the Voyage of Learning Teacher’s Academy has inspired nearly 80,000 students throughout the region.

Anyone interested in Forest Park Forever’s Education Programs should contact Jean Turney at jturney@forestparkforever.org or call (314)367-PARK.