VINS offers virtual and in-person learning during pandemic

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:41 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 11:43 AM EDT
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QUECHEE, Vt. (WCAX) - Students are heading back to school soon, but summer is a great time to learn. That’s where the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee comes in.

“One of the advantages that we have here at VINS is that we are primarily outdoors,” said Chris Collier, VINS’ director of on-site programs and exhibits.

He says VINS offers 47 acres of outdoor and indoor activities to help people of all ages engage in what they are learning. That’s helpful during a pandemic when educating kids is at the forefront of a lot of conversation.

Collier says the science center has three goals.

“Our mission is to motivate people to care for their environment and we do that through education, research and through avian or bird rehabilitation,” he said.

In order to accurately educate, they need to research. But they can’t do it alone. They need what they call citizen scientists to help them out.

“They can go out and contribute useful information to our projects and projects throughout the country and the world even,” said Jim Armbruster, the research coordinator at VINS.

He says with people spending more time at home, now is the opportunity to take the classroom right to the neighborhood.

Through apps like iNaturalist and other online databases, people can go outside, find animals and plants and upload them. That’s anything from crayfish to dragonflies to birds of prey.

“These projects are great because if you are not feeling comfortable enough to come to the nature center you can still participate in your neighborhood, your house,” said Armbruster.

And the most important part is anyone can do it from any location and the experts at VINS will use the information.

“You don’t have to be a scientist, you don’t have to go to school to study research and things like that. You can sort of be an amateur naturalist out in your yard and your data is still useful,” said Armbruster.

Collier says they are gearing up now to do research projects following the raptor migration as well as the monarch butterfly migration right into the fall.

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