Graduate’s coloring book will benefit Highlands Biological Station

Western Carolina University graduate Scherita Cambridge combined her interests in art, education and natural sciences during a summer internship at the Highlands Biological Station for some special results. She created a coloring book for kids that will be used as a teaching tool and a fundraiser for the research and learning facility located in Highlands.

The WCU Print Shop is producing several hundred copies for sale at the Highlands Nature Center, the station’s visitor center and exhibit hall. Profits from the coloring book will support programs, outreach, research and daily operations.

“This coloring book is a wonderful way for younger children to learn about native animals and plants,” said Jim Costa, director of the Highlands Biological Station and a WCU biology professor. “It is presented in an engaging and creative way. In addition to her lovely drawings, Scherita also wrote the captions, tailored to young readers.”

The coloring book is very place-based, Costa said, depicting native species that in most instances can be seen at the biological station campus. The station promotes education, research and outreach on the ecology and diverse landscape of Southern Appalachia. Putting that in a format accessible to the youngest of visitors was an important aspect of the project, he said.

Scherita Cambridge's coloring book has been printed for sale at the Highlands Biological Station's nature center.

Scherita Cambridge’s coloring book has been printed for sale at the Highlands Biological Station’s nature center.

“For my project, I wanted to do something creative or artistic,” Cambridge said. “It took me weeks to think of something, with my first ideas to do something like trail signs or nature books. But it was my cottage-mate and friend, Kara Jones, who first suggested a coloring book. After that, I continued with the idea and based the images on the Highlands Biological Station property.”

While she hasn’t colored in a coloring book since childhood, Cambridge said she knows there’s an involvement that goes beyond “staying inside the lines” for kids. For them, a coloring book can be a fun learning experience, which is also how she feels about her internship.

“Interning at Highlands Nature Center was one of the best experiences I have had,” she said. “The environment was relaxed and the staff were friendly and easy to talk to. I was pushed out of my element and I feel that I learned some valuable skills, such as interacting with visitors and designing and running programs. I learned that it was OK to not know all the answers, in terms of some of the questions that visitors asked, and it was effective to sometimes take the initiative.”

The Raeford resident graduated from WCU with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources conservation and management in May.

The Highlands Biological Station is a University of North Carolina system facility that is administered by WCU. For more information about the Highlands Biological Station, the Highlands Nature Center and programs, go to www.wcu.edu/hbs.