By Kelley Lang
Community Programming Coordinator
Every Thursday afternoon this past fall ten students left Wayne Middle School and arrived at Asbury Woods to have outdoor adventures. They have met praying mantises, discovered living things in pond water, collected fall leaves, encountered a snake on the trail, poked around the banks of Walnut Creek and navigated the Woods with just a compass. For some of these students, the time they spent here on Thursdays is the first time in their young lives that, apart from going to school, they have traveled more than one city block from their own homes. I have the privilege of encouraging them to make discoveries, let go of some of the stresses and worries that they carry with them, and begin to feel comfortable being outside and being close to nature. One student remarked to me one Thursday with obvious pride and happiness in her voice that each Friday her classroom teacher asks her what she did at Urban University. She told me she could hardly wait to tell her teacher that we hiked over a mile in the woods that day. Her smile, as she shared this with me, was priceless. Thursday afternoons quickly became the highlight of my week.