Opal Whiteley
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Having joined the local chapter of the Junior Christian Endeavor, a religious organization for rural children, Opal translated her knowledge into lectures on the scientific and spiritual wonder of nature. Parents would bring their children to hear her speak, and find themselves enchanted as well. There was something about the little girl, just a teenager, who seemed to know everything about plants and animals but spoke of them as if they were human. Hoff relates in The Singing Creek the words of a woman who had known Opal in Junior Endeavor: "She told stories. I remember one time the lesson was about the Resurrection, and she told us all about how, just as a person is buried, a seed is buried, and how from the seed there comes later a beautiful flower, and how death is not really death but being born into a new environment."

Another woman who'd attended Opal's classes said, "On one of our mornings of nature study, we were in the city fairgrounds park, and we would pledge friendship to a tree by holding up our hands."

There were other incidents, underscoring the humor in events that adults often forget to see. "When I taught at the lumber camps," Opal told the Oregonian in 1917, "we had what we called a menagerie, for we studied every kind of natural thing. The children would bring anything they wished. One day a little boy came to the back door of the house where I was staying and said he had something for the menagerie. 'Bring it right in,' I told him. When he deposited his burden on the table a whole hatful of lizards ran over the table, much to the consternation of the other people in the house."

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