MetroParks offering kits to help kids explore nature

The Conservation Kids program was established in 2014 to provide children and their families with the inspiration and knowledge to “get outside, play in and explore nature and, ultimately, become stewards of the environment and advocates for conservation.” CONTRIBUTED

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Discover, act, share and protect. Conservation Kids do all that and have fun at the same time. But the popular Five Rivers MetroParks program has shifted gears in recent months as a result of the pandemic and is now offering program kits instead of in-person programs.

The Conservation Kids Discovery Kits are part of the MetroParks’ larger Program Kit now being offered to the community.

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“These kits are like a MetroParks experience or program in a box,” said Shawna Balog, Five Rivers MetroParks educational specialist. “Nature is still open and we have the tools to help them have meaningful and memorable experiences enjoying the outdoors. Families can have an experience at their own time frame in a neighborhood park or their own backyard.”

The Conservation Kids program was established in 2014 to provide children and their families with the inspiration and knowledge to “get outside, play in and explore nature and, ultimately, become stewards of the environment and advocates for conservation.” CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The Conservation Kids program was established in 2014 to provide children and their families with the inspiration and knowledge to “get outside, play in and explore nature and, ultimately, become stewards of the environment and advocates for conservation.” Four levels of programming were created to help children develop the knowledge and skills to become nature stewards.

The first set of MetroParks kits are now available and run the gamut from worm observation to sewing a quilt block and fishing to farming. The Conservation Kids Discover Kit comes with a variety of tools from an aquarium net and magnifying glass to a flashlight and fossil guide. There are also videos and additional resources available. Whether it’s summer fun with the family or an enhancement to homeschooling, these kits fit the bill.

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“We talk about learning by stealth,” Balog said. “Having an adventure and making observations is also learning science.”

The Passport to Fishing Kit includes two fishing rods and tackle box as well as access to supplemental videos. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The kits cover a wide range of topics from outdoor recreation to science to history. The Passport to Fishing Kit includes two fishing rods and tackle box as well as access to supplemental videos. The Meet a Pillbug Kit – also known as roly-polies – includes everything you need to create a temporary habitat for the interesting little creatures, along with an activity guide to add to the fun. The Corn Husk Doll Kit provides all the materials needed to create the historic farm toy.

Kits cost as little as $5 and can be picked up at either Cox Arboretum or Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark at designated times after reserving them online at www.metroparks.org/kits.

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“Most of the kits are for all ages and designed with families in mind,” Balog said.

The plan is to offer new kits throughout the year to keep the adventure going.

“We know everybody is dealing with a lot of uncertainty, but we’re still thinking about the public and working on the best ways to engage and stay safe,” Balog said. “We don’t want them to forget about the fun they can have in nature.”

CONSERVATION KIDS LEVELS

Green – Discover

Focus: Discover what’s out there in nature and become comfortable outdoors

Activities: Interact with wildlife, play in creeks, go on owl walks and hold crawdads

Blue – Act

Focus: Learn to protect the parks, develop ownership, become citizen scientists and give back to nature

Activities: Participate in frog surveys, monitor bluebird boxes, plant seeds

Orange – Share

Focus: Share knowledge with the community and become a conservation leader among peers

Activities: Serve as a naturalist with peers and host an event, such as a spider party or backyard bird count, that rallies other kids around conservation and challenges them to get out in nature

Yellow – Protect

Focus: Build conservation into daily activities

Activities: Report results from orange level activity and continue such conservation efforts as creating backyard habitats at home

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