Merriam Park Hosts Great Outdoors Night for Students and Family Members

Students roast s'mores on Great Outdoors Night
Shawnee Mission School District

The Merriam Park Bears recently spent an evening learning more about the benefits of stepping outside and enjoying time in nature.

Interactive exhibits were set up on Great Outdoors Night outside the elementary school building, allowing students to try a variety of  activities including kayaking, archery, fishing, and spending time at a campsite. Students and teachers also roasted s’mores and toured exhibits and displays presented by guests representing local community organizations.  

Great Outdoors Night also served as the debut event for the new Merriam Park Bear mascots. Funding for the Merriam Park Bear mascots was donated by Steve Sears through the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.  

SM North students and their teacher, Evan Brandt, also joined in the event, bringing with them animals from the high school science department.

Teachers at Merriam Park were inspired to host the event after learning about a similar event in another state on social media, Dustin Springer, instructional coach said.

“We wanted to connect our families to the wonders of getting out and doing things together outside,” he said. “We were excited to host this event and cultivate new partnerships.”  

Friends of the Kaw, Lakeside Nature Center, Wildwood, the Overland Park Arboretum, Wyandotte County Conservation District, and the Heartland Conservation Alliance, and Kansas Wildlife and Tourism served as community partners and Joan Leavens, coordinator of sustainability and community engagement, provided support for the event.   

Students roast s'mores on Great Outdoors Night
A student tried out a kayak at Merriam Park Great Outdoors Night
Students do rock-related artwork at Merriam Park Great Outdoors Night.
Students practice archery at Great Outdoors Night
Students try fishing at Great Outdoors night
Merriam Park bear mascots greet students at Great Outdoors NIght
Merriam Park Bear Mascots
A student holds an animal with a SM North student
A Merriam Park student looks at an animal held by a SM North student.
A SM North student talks to a Merriam Park student about a turtle that is on the table.