Field Guide: Fourth grade hikes Ganier Ridge

Read on for the latest happenings in USN's Young Naturalist Program.
By Lauren Hagan, Naturalist Teacher

Fourth grade naturalists braved the chilly temperatures to head out to Radnor Lake State Park to take on the Ganier Ridge Trail hiking challenge. As students gathered at the trailhead, Naturalist Teacher Lauren Hagan read some uplifting and informative quotes about teamwork and taught students about Ganier Ridge. Named for Albert F. Ganier, an avid naturalist and the founder of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, the trail climbs to 1,119 feet and is the highest point in Nashville proper. Next, students hiked together along the Lake Trial while observing the pristine forest all around; they watched two great blue herons hunting by the lake, a herd of deer grazing on the hill, and numerous birds flying about. 

Things got really interesting as the group arrived at the junction of Lake Trail and Ganier Ridge Trail. Students worked together in groups of six to complete a solo hike up and over the 1.65-mile trail. Students were each given a job to help their team reach the goal. The leader kept the group organized and provided encouragement. The safety/first-aid person provided tissues, wipes, and bandages if needed and carried a safety whistle to blow in case of an extreme emergency. Prior to their departure, students had many discussions on the meaning of the term “extreme emergency,” and students in the safety role took their responsibilities very seriously. The historian made a rubbing of the plaque that honors Ganier at the top of the ridge, while the pace setter carried a timepiece and kept the group moving at a steady pace. The navigator carried a trail map and made sure the group stayed on track. Lastly, the checklist manager checked off landmarks observed along the path from an illustrated list. Hagan waited at the top of the ridge for students, and the classroom teacher waited at the bottom, so a helpful adult was always close. 

All groups successfully completed the challenge. It was inspiring to see the students supporting each other and working together towards a common goal. If someone fell, the first-aid person on the team was there right away to offer a hand to the teammate. Students encouraged each other, laughed a great deal, and took in the beauty and peace of Radnor Lake. As everyone boarded the bus to return to 2000 Edgehill, all our young naturalists seemed to walk a little taller and have a boost in confidence that they’ll likely carry with them for a long time.
    • Wildlife spotted during fourth graders' hike along Ganier Ridge Trail at Radnor Lake State Park.

    • Each team's historian was responsible for making a rubbing of the plaque that honors Albert Ganier, who the trail was named after, at the top of the ridge.

    • Ellen Haber's fourth grade class after completing the Ganier Ridge Trail hiking challenge.

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