Have you ever wondered what ‘quick out of the blocks’ means? Meet Wilmot third grader Jenna Audlin and it will become vividly clear!
Jenna and her parents moved from Austin, Texas to Evergreen in January of 2014. In the short time that she has lived here, she and her mother, Mendhi, have become hugely involved in our community.
“Last summer we started a nature club at the Nature Center,” said Jenna, “we met Vanessa Hayes” (the former Executive Director of the Nature Center) who was really nice. We met every Friday through the summer.” Jenna learned about the Bear Creek Watershed “and how important it is to all of us living here.”
One thing led to another and in the end Jenna and Hayes co-authored the book, Explore More! Outdoor Challenge for Kids.
The book is not something just to read, but to become active with it as “kids of all ages, or guys up to 100 years,” she laughed. It begins with a place to write your name and even to draw a picture of yourself. Jenna’s book teaches us about the Watershed, sets up goals to be reached around hiking, birds, wildlife, plants, respectful recreation and finally rewards the owner of each book with a Junior Naturalist stamp of approval. “We also learn about bugs.”
“You can get it at the Nature Center, HearthFire Books, and Where the Books Go, and 100% of the proceeds go to the Nature Center,” she explained. Jenna also added, “We also sold a lot at Rotary,” where Jenna is the youngest member of Evergreen Rotary. “The club donated $100 for the first printing; that was really nice of them.” Asked how she is able to be a member of Rotary she said, “I don’t have to go to school until 9:00 in the morning, so I can go with my mom” at 7:00 a.m. every Friday morning. Jenna proudly added, “I’m the youngest member, except for the babies.”
Asked about becoming an author, Jenna said that “When I was a baby I used to tear books,” she laughed and then added, “now I love books.” Jenna loves them so much that for her 9th birthday she asked her parents to buy a book for every third grader at Wilmot. Her parents delivered.
Already a strong and generous leader, Jenna included many of her classmates in the book project. “Some drew pictures and helped with research.” With a little jump in her seat she added, “Oh! And members of Evergreen Audubon also helped a lot!” She acknowledges everyone in the back of the book.
Jenna describes herself as “a nature enthusiast.” When asked what that means to her she said, “I like exploring. We hike. My dad and I go fishing,” but she admitted, “I’ve never caught a fish – yet! We camp, and I usually want to take more pictures like clouds shaped like an S. We like to choose different parks when we go hiking. I especially like O’Fallon.”
Jenna has other interests as well. “I love to learn about the pioneers,” she said. She has visited historic museums and attended classes. She looks forward Wilmot’s visit to the historic schoolhouse next year. “In second grade we were lucky and snuck into it and saw inside.” Jenna also takes guitar lessons, is a member of Girl Scouts where her mother is her leader, and is a member not only of Rotary but also Audubon.
She and her mother visited the Wild Animal Sanctuary last year. “We ‘adopted’ a wildcat who we named Mitchell, Jenna explained. “My teacher was Ms. Mitchell, and we’re the Wilmot Wildcats, so I raised money from all the classes so that Wilmot could adopt.”
Asked what she wants people to get out of her book Jenna said, “I want kids to not play so many video games. I love going outside and exploring. I always learn something.”
It looks as though all of us can learn something from Jenna too.