July 27, 2011
- Create Your Own Nature Trail
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Create Your Own Nature Trail
Have you ever been for a walk on a nature trail? There are lots of plants and animals to see, but have you ever wondered what they are and what their role in nature might be? Many nature and environmental education centers have interpretive trails with markers or signs explaining features along the trail or offer a brochure to carry with you.
Planning an Interpretive Trail in Your Backyard, Woods or Neighborhood Park
Suppose you're interested in teaching others about one of your favorite outdoor spaces: a trail or part of a trail you like to visit or a section of your yard or neighborhood park. Create a brochure outlining what they should watch for or do as they explore the area. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Who is your audience? Who do you expect to visit your interpretive trail? Keep their interests and abilities in mind as you choose a suitable trail and design a trail brochure to meet their needs.
What would you like your audience to experience or learn about? Is there a special reason you'd like this audience to visit a particular place? Is there something new you'd like them to learn, or do you just want to encourage them to explore and enjoy their time outdoors? Visit a nature center in your area to get an idea of what an interpretive trail is like.
As you write, consider how much time your audience may be willing to spend reading rather than exploring. Choose a theme for your brochure, and focus on things to see and do along the trail that match the theme. If your audience is young, you can suggest games or activities in your brochure. Remind all visitors that it's important to stay on the marked trail for their own health and safety and to minimize erosion. Here are some theme ideas for trail brochures:
Signs of Wildlife: Tell people where to find trees visited by woodpeckers, nests made by squirrels or birds, muddy areas where tracks might be seen and viewing spots for beaver lodges or muskrat pushups. Include information about scat (animal droppings or "poop") and tracks, and list animals commonly seen along or near the trail.
Wildflowers: Wildflowers can be found year-round. Though they are most showy in the spring, you can see their dry seed heads poking above the winter snow. Guide visitors to areas where different kinds of wildflowers may be located. Describe how to distinguish different flower species from each other. Include some interesting facts, such as whether the flower is native and how it may have been used by people in the past.
Tree ID: Identify the different species of trees found along or near your trail, and describe how to tell one from another. For each species, discuss how wildlife use trees for food or shelter and the signs to look for.
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Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
Try creating a nature-themed sensory trail along which visitors will see, feel, hear and touch (but not taste) the features you highlight. Include several species of trees with bark and leaves that feel different to the touch. Learn what kinds of trees they are, and provide some information about them in your brochure. Suggest activities such as bark or leaf rubbings.
Find some rocks or other geological formations along your trail. Pick those with different surfaces, such as smooth stones and rough rocks. Research what kind of rock you think it is. Include several different flowers on your trail that people can feel and smell. Designate an area along the trail for visitors to close their eyes for a moment and listen. What might they hear? Do the same for smell, especially if there's a spot along the trail with a distinctive scent, perhaps in a pine grove or near a pond.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Family Freshwater Fishing Clinic
Saturday, August 6 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Hempstead Lake State Park
Cost: $6 parking (free with Empire Passport). Contact I FISH NY at 631-444-0283 to register and for directions.
Barn Day for Kids
August 3 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
Youngsters entering grades 1 through 3
Old-Fashioned Family Sing-a-Long with Chris Ruhe
August 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Fishing at Norrie
Saturday, August 6 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Family Fun: Five Rivers' Indoor Wildlife
Saturday, July 30 at 10:00 AM
Family Fun: Hiding in Plain Sight
Saturday, July 30 at 2:00 PM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, July 27.
Citizen Science: Firefly Watch
Tuesday, August 2 at 8:00 PM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Friday, July 29.
Family Fun: Exploring Nature
Saturday, August 6 at 10:00 AM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, August 3.
Family Fun: A Stream Runs Through It
Saturday, August 6 at 2:00 PM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, August 3. Shorts and old sneakers fit for dabbling in the water are recommended; no flip-flops please.
Citizen Science: Bat Count
Tuesday, August 9 at 7:30 PM
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center
National Tree Day Celebration
Sunday, July 31 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Saturday, July 30 at 10:30 AM
Tuesdays, August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Assist with hour-long projects to help maintain and improve ecosystems and trails throughout the preserve.
Wednesdays, August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 at 10:00 AM
Participants must sign up for the entire series. For children ages 3 through 5. Materials fee: $15.00 per child; $10.00 per child for FORNP members. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Thursday, August 4 at 9:30 AM
Soak Up the Sun
Thursday, August 4 at 10:30 AM
Alien Invader Investigation
Friday, August 5 at 10:00 AM