Category Archives: Nature programs

This week: Take A Child Outside

Before kids come out to a program at the Prairie Ridge Ecostation, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ wildlife learning center, Jan Weems asks them to draw a picture of what they think they’ll see.

“They draw pictures of bears and lions and all these really big animals,” says Weems, the center’s senior manager of early childhood programs. At the end of the program, when she asks them to draw a picture of what they actually did see at this 45-acre natural oasis in the heart of Raleigh, she gets sketches of tadpoles, frogs, crickets, ladybugs … .
“The reality is it’s really much more fun to get close to a lady bug,” says Weems, who has been in the business of exposing kids to the outdoors for 30 years.
The reality is also that today more than ever, too many kids like the ones viewing Prairie Ridge as a wild jungle have only a vague notion of what’s going on outside their living room windows.
That’s why in 2006, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Director of Education Liz Baird deemed it necessary to create Take A Child Outside Week, seven days at the end of September dedicated to introducing our increasingly insulated youth to the great outdoors. Take A Child Outside Week 2013 begins Tuesday and runs through Monday, Sept. 30. At least 82 Take A Child Outside-related programs are scheduled throughout the state. (To find an event close to you, check our calendar, here.)
“The average child spends seven hours a day in front of a screen,” says Baird, “with no logged time outdoors. Obviously, we still need to remind parents to get their children outside.”
Take a Child Outside Week was spurred by Richard Louv’s 2005 bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” an account of how, in less than a generation, our kids have gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room.
To anyone who came of age pre-1980, the notion of having to be reminded to go outside and play would have seemed crazy; outside — in a local forest, along a nearby creek, in a neighborhood park — was where kids went to escape. But as Louv notes, a proliferation of electronic options and increasingly protective parents have conspired to keep our kids inside.
Some disturbing numbers: read more

This weekend: an evening paddle, adventure race, evergreen hike

You could be here, on the Cape Fear River, Friday evening (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Kick off Easter weekend on the water Friday evening in Wilmington, then explore a Piedmont mountain or run — and bike and paddle and use a map & compass — like a bunny in the high country.

Coast

Back in college we started the weekend when it deserves to be started, at 5 o’clock Friday afternoon with a ritual we called FAC — Friday Afternoon Club. The focus of FAC was amber liquids, much like the focus of this Friday’s FAC — Sunset Kayaking Adventure — departing from Wilmington’s River Road Park. Unlike my old FAC, the objective this Friday will be to stay on top of those liquids, not consume them. read more

This weekend: Frog love and other things in the air

In addition to this weekend being the Great Backyard Bird Count, there are other reasons to look up.

Coast

Winter is an especially good time to check out the night sky. Skies tend to be clearer (the cold zaps the moisture from the air) and when the clouds have scattered there’s so much to see. Even more so if you happen to be stargazing at the coast, where interference from light pollution is less of an issue. read more