Korento Nature School guides children and young people to close contact with nature

Korento Nature School is located in Terälahti, Teisko. At Korento, children and young people can experience the peace of nature and learn various subjects outdoors. The children will gradually adopt environmentally friendly methods and choices, as the main objective of environmental education is a shared sustainable future. Class 7H of Juhannuskylä School visited Korento on a Monday in August.
A group of young students outside studying nature.
Korento Nature School is certified by the LYKE development centre, the Finnish Association of Nature and Environment Schools. Korento has been operating for over 20 years. The photo shows student mentor Siena Hietala, Olivia Inkeroinen and Yashar Ranjdoos

The most memorable experience of the Nature School Day was probably a tiny leech. The environmental educator Jenni Skaffari, who guides school groups at the Nature School, picks the worm in her hand.

This leech doesn't suck blood and is harmless to humans. Who wants to hold it?

The leech is passed gently from hand to hand, and sometimes Skaffari applies water from the river on the little worm. After the inspection round, the creature is returned to its home river.

“The leech grabbed the skin, and it felt nice, not in any way disgusting”, explains a student from class 7H, Vasilisa Gromova.

Her classmate Lilja Ahonen regards Nature School Day as a pleasant variation in the school's everyday life. 

“It was a little boring at first, as we had to sit in class and listen. But when we got to do stuff ourselves, it really was fun. And we don’t get any homework today!”

Experiences in nature 

Holding the leech sums up many key issues for the Nature School. The environmental educator Taru Lindgren, who is responsible for groups in pre-primary education and early childhood education and care, says that the starting point in Korento is a relationship with nature.

“We study in nature and from nature. When children and young people gain a personal experience of being in nature, they also want to take care of and take responsibility for the environment”, says Lindgren.

Korento Nature School offers its visitors programme packages that are based on and support the curriculum. The packages have been carefully considered, but they also offer plenty of flexibility and an opportunity to consider the wishes of the schools.

“During the day we listen and observe the energy level of the group. We are able to change our plans according to the needs of the group, as we plan a lot of things beforehand”, Lindgren explains.

The basic idea of the Nature School is that children and young people can do and experience themselves. Thus, class 7H of the Juhannuskylä School spent a good time by the river, catching invertebrates, under strict guidance, of course. These were then brought to the class for identification and examination with a microscope. At the same time, the group reflected on what the occurrence of the species would indicate about the state of the river.

Two boys smiling outside.
Catching invertebrates with a net is certainly an experience that will be remembered. Aleksej Petsnikov and Jooa Siilinkari.

Nature is a versatile learning environment

Biology and physical exercise have traditionally been taught outdoors in nature. According to Skaffari, the special feature of Korento Nature School is that it is possible to learn many different subjects and topics in nature. The programme for class 7H from Juhannuskylä includes mathematical tasks, the basics of programming, emotional skills and performing arts.

“Any subject can be studied in nature. And even if everyone doesn’t learn a specific thing, they might absorb other skills or knowledge: how to relax, a sense of belonging or the courage to spend more time in nature”, Skaffari says.

The seventh grades of the Juhannuskylä School visit Korento every year at the beginning of the autumn semester. The school focuses on visual arts and Latin, which means that pupils come to it from many different schools in Pirkanmaa. Nature School Day is an excellent opportunity to develop team spirit in a class.

Korento leaves memories and impressions

The Nature School Korento aims to serve day-care centres and schools so that the school path in Tampere includes a nature school day in preschool, as well as the fourth and seventh grades. The Korento calendar is usually filled in quickly by these main target groups, although the distance to Terälahti might be challenging for some of the day-care centres and schools.

Children and young people travel to Korento on Nysse bus services; the journey from the city centre takes an hour, and some groups also need to take bus from their school to the city centre first. According to Vasilisa and Lilja, the bus trip from their school to Korento was pleasant, however, as they could spend the time on the bus doing things they liked. 

According to the environmental educators at Korento, the best thing about their own work is the actual field work: every day they get to meet a new group of children and adults – and they can take the group out into nature.

“Many pupils are left with a positive impression of the visit, and even those who are initially a little reluctant, often find at least something that inspires them. That makes this job so great, Skaffari says.

Students are studying nature outside.
The river near Korento Nature School provides plenty of interesting bugs for inspection. In the photo, Siiri Karvonen, Lin Demirel and Polina Kandeikina, and in the front row Olivia Inkeroinen and Vasilisa Gromova.
Students and a teacher are standing inside and studying water samples.
A leech is examined by Olivia Inkeroinen, Vasilisa Gromova, Juha Viinikkala, environmental educator Jenni Skaffari, Julius Kauppinen, Lilja Ahonen and Iisa Ohtonen.
Text: Päivi Stenroos
Photos: Laura Happo
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