Category Archives: Nature programs

This weekend: All paths lead to good times

Not the boat you'll be touring the Scuppernong, but a boat with keen significance to the area.

Leave the driving to a park ranger on a boat trip up the Scuppernong River, hike Hanging Rock with GetHiking! Triangle, or hike into history in the Swannanoa Valley.

Coast

Pettigrew State Park offers frequent tours of the Scuppernong River. Usually, those tours are by canoe, a great way to experience the Scuppernong but not everyone’s cup of tea-colored water. Saturday, the park lets you leave the paddling to others on its afternoon Scuppernong River Tour.  One advantage: without having to deal with navigation you can focus on the waterway’s abundant wildlife and natural beauty. read more

This weekend: Wings, wheels, fall foliage

Birding at Pea Island

Wings Over Water is underway at the coast, there’s a family bike ride through the autumnal Piedmont and there’s a chance to view the high country’s peak color from a peak.

Coast

If you’re into nature, and especially the nature of the coast, then drop what you’re doing and head to the Outer Banks region, where the annual Wings Over Water celebration is underway (it started yesterday and runs through Sunday). On tap: guided birding trips, art and photography workshops, tram tours of National Wildlife Refuges, guided kayak and canoe tours, a visit to an ancient maritime forest and more. Programs are scheduled in Dare, Currituck, Tyrrell and Hyde counties. read more

This weekend: Welcome, October!

A mighty longleaf pine, at Weymouth Woods. (Photo courtesy NC Parks)

A mellow downtown bike ride at the coast, an audience with a survivor from the days of Mary Queen of Scots and hankie hike up in the hollow. An interesting weekend of choices in North Carolina.

Coast

We love a good organized bike ride. And we have a special fondness for those that don’t cater to the hardcore cyclist capable of riding 100 miles. Or 63. Or even 25. We like the short, leisurely rides that just about anyone could do — even someone without a bike. read more

This weekend: A proper September sendoff

The Scuppernong. Photo courtesy Mike Dunn

Say goodbye to September with a coastal paddle, a Piedmont adventure race, or a day in the mountains with your heads, thoughtfully, in the clouds.

Coast

Perhaps we’ve mentioned this a time or three before; if so, forgive us. But one of our favorite paddles in the state is on the Scuppernong River upstream from Columbia. Wide and open as the river is at Columbia, shortly before giving it up to Bull Bay and the Albemarle Sound, the river just upstream, where it becomes part of Pettigrew State Park, is close and intimate. Perfect for a fall canoe trip. read more

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