Visit Weyerhaeuser’s Cool Springs “Teaching Forest”!

I never thought I would ever learn to basket weave, but “never say never”!

Laura Johnson and I ventured up the road to Askin, NC, only a short drive from New Bern to learn how to use long leaf pines to basket weave.

Melissa Patrick, the Education Coordinator for Weyerhaeuser’s Cool Springs Environmental Education Center, told us about their upcoming lifelong learning classes. Up until a couple of months ago, we didn’t even know this “Teaching Forest” existed but drove by the entrance 100 times. We met Melissa at the Craven Community College’s Green Fair and were excited to visit Cool Springs.

Cool Springs offers classes in a beautiful, scenic outdoor and/or indoor setting. Although the temperatures were rising into the high 80s, we enjoyed the learning environment under a clean pavilion with a nice breeze coming from the river. They even had bug spray available, but I didn’t need to use it.

Melissa was excited to tell us about their past painting and nature photography classes as well as their upcoming Turtle Talk on June 27th and the all day Reptile Workshop on June 29th.

Jennifer Christensen and her daughter, Emma, patiently taught us how to create objects (coasters, baskets, or anything we wanted) from natural materials – long leaf pine needles. Jennifer is passionate about creating her artwork from things made by Mother Nature. This is an inexpensive and fun hobby that creates beautiful works of art!

It’s obvious that Emma Christensen follows in her Mother’s footsteps! Emma is an extremely talented artist and she’s striving to become an Engineer. She’s only 12 years old and won the State Championship for Engineering in the Science category last year. This year, she’s focused on the upcoming International Science Fair in Washington, DC.

I can’t wait to finish my masterpiece! Who knows, I may enter it in the Craven Arts Council’s Bank of the Arts Juried Art Show next year. More realistically, I’ll give it to my Mom for her birthday!

Stay tuned! We are planning on attending more upcoming classes and presentations!

Please contact Melissa Patrick if you are “interested in presenting a topic related to the Environment or History of the area, or would like to teach a craft that you have expertise in”.

Visit them by appointment only at 949 Cool Springs Road, Askin, NC (off Hwy 17 and across the street from Askins General Store), send an e-mail, or check out their website:

Special thanks to Melissa Patrick for hosting this event and to Jennifer and Emma Christensen for teaching us how to weave! It was a pleasure meeting all of our classmates!

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Wendy Card