CTF's Family Nature Club Valentine's Hike
Gainesville Ecotours led a Family Nature Club “Alphabet Hike” for children at the Barr Hammock Levy Prairie Preserve on Saturday, February 15, 2014. The event was sponsored by the Conservation Trust for Florida. Sixteen parents and 22 children set out to find, “A is for Ants, Alligators, and P is for Plants!” The preserve is owned by Alachua County, but the Conservation Trust for Florida and Alachua County partner to provide outreach activities at the preserve.On the Alphabet Hike, children looked for nature items that began with the alphabet letters. They were allowed to stop for anything they saw or even sprint ahead to the next animal or plant that they wanted to see. This hike was guided by the children’s own exploration. If they were excited about an ant pile for 10 minutes or wanted to run around in a mud hole, they were given the freedom to explore at their own pace. This hike was designed to have a guided activity, but only to the extent that it helped the children explore, but more for the children to notice nature, get exercise, and fresh air. No lectures, no hurry, lots of fun!
Armed with children’s binoculars, the children first noticed, “A is for Ants,” along with “W is for Water and P is for Plants.” As they hiked they observed: “S is for Snake, P is for Poop, T is for Trees, G is for Grass, and D is for Dirt!” They observed weather in: “C is for Clouds,” and shapes of letters too in: “U is for a U shaped item” in the form of a tree branch in the shape of a U. They even used their binoculars to observe the, “P is for Poop” that was right at their feet. Little scientists in the making!
The children enjoyed their hike and loved going through their Valentine’s bags filled with stickers, wildflower seeds, CTF and Florida Wildlife Corridor brochures, Gainesville Birding and Nature Festival information, how to create a back yard bird feeder, and, of course, the chocolates! The weather was clear, sunny, and warm, and the children had fun too. It was a great day for parents to spend with their Valentines.