Storyteller shows kids importance of nature, wildlife

Jordan Gogo | Daily Press

Former librarian Gay Sandwick reads children a story about animals at the Three Forks Nature Center in Sequoyah State Park. The Summer Stories series continues each Friday in July at 10 a.m.

HULBERT - Children from Hulbert, Tahlequah, and elsewhere listened to storyteller Gay Sandwick teach them about animals by reading books at Sequoyah State Park Friday morning.

This summer, Sequoyah State Park has been inviting families to bring their children to learn about wildlife, read books, and make crafts every Friday at 10 a.m. in the Three Forks Nature Center.

"We're trying to engage the public more," said Madalyn Rogers, Sequoyah State Park assistant naturalist. "Before Angelina [Stancampiano, Sequoyah State Park naturalist] came, we had activities for small children, but not for older kids like we do now."

This week marked the third Friday Sandwick visited the nature center to tell stories.

After earning a master's degree in library science and working as a librarian at Jenks Southeast Elementary for 30 years, Sandwick retired in May. Looking for the next thing to do, she approached Stancampiano with the idea to read to local children.

"I want children to feel good about themselves when they read," said Sandwick. "Truthfully, I became a librarian because I have dyslexia."

Dyslexia is a reading disability that caused her to face many challenges in life. Growing up, her skills in reading were always behind those of her peers.

"It was so hurtful to see everyone around me reading," said Sandwick.

"I want to make sure that other children never feel that way. With any challenge in life, you just have to learn to be your best self."

Sandwick has passed her love for reading onto her granddaughter, Mia Camacho, whom she brings with her to her summer readings at Sequoyah State Park.

"Because of my grandma, I'm more interested in reading than most kids my age," said Mia, 12. "I don't have dyslexia, but my younger sister does. My grandma is able to help her with it."

Their family loves camping at Sequoyah State Park and plans to be there throughout the summer.

"I like feeding and being around the animals," said Mia. "I just love being here and making memories with my family."

Their mutual love of the park is the primary reason Sandwick wanted to read every week.

"I'm reading to the kids because I want them to appreciate nature," said Sandwick. "We've been coming here for years. The park is a beautiful place and I want them to experience it."

The storytelling is one of several free events that are planned to increase community involvement at the nature center.

"This is something for parents who want to find something for their kids to do while camping here," said Rogers. "Engaging kids with nature is a special thing."

Check it out

Children 3-12 with adults are invited to the Summer Stories series at 10 a.m. each Friday in July. For more information, call Sequoyah State Park's Three Forks Nature Center at 918-772-2108.