Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year on Avalonia Trails

By Beth Sullivan
By the time you are reading this, some of us will already have broken our resolutions: to always eat heathy, exercise every day, lose weight… know. But I will share one of my resolutions: to walk all of Avalonia’s trailed properties over the next year so that I can be familiar with them, observe wildlife and plant life, take photographs, and do blog entries to share.
Identify an evergreen plant.

Really my goal is more for others than for myself. I am truly dedicated to getting people, especially kids, outside!

Walk, Photograph, Question

As we in Avalonia are stretching to find new ways to educate people, nourish the next generation of conservationists, and train those who will come after us, we have to get those young people out there on the trails, getting curious, observing, and interacting with nature. Most people do not need real formal lessons, some would like some hand holding the first time they roll a log or follow a trail. But really what you need is a sense of adventure and curiosity. That is what got me hooked. I want to know what is beyond the next hill, up that tree, in the brook, under the log and in the rocky cave. I want to know what bird I have spotted or what a particular plant is. Sometimes I wish for a pack animal to haul my books, cameras, binoculars, hand lenses,…
A Woodpecker's hole.

Explore a small stream.

But here’s my secret and one that I challenge you to try: Get those cell phone and smart phone cameras and put them to use! No texting or emailing or facebooking and tweeting while on a trail. Take pictures of what you, or your kids, spot. It could be a really cool glacial rock formation, a funny looking plant, a hole in a tree, the husk of a nut found where a squirrel has left it, or a cave in the rocks. These are all things that can be observed now, during winter. Look for footprints in the snow and ice patterns on the water. Make a photo journal, make digital files of the preserves and places you visit. Come spring you can get kids to document the new beginnings, plants, first flowers, birds’ nests, fast running streams. While you can get them excited to use technology outside, you can get those photos home and look up what you don’t know: what kind of salamander was that? What was that pretty flower? Look on a GIS map and locate the preserve you were on.
Look at patterns in the ice.

What might live in this little cave?

Visit our web site

As our website is getting updated, we have added a property list you can download. It has GPS co-ordinates for locations, links to trail maps are on the preserves page, more are coming. In the up coming months, I am hoping to work on a scavenger hunt theme for our preserves, that will do just what I described: get kids out, families together, getting them to look closely and observe and document. Right now the concept is only in my head. I will need help to formulate it and adapt it to an internet/web based activity. But in the meantime, I need to get out and do my own scavenger hunt. I will keep you all posted with my observations and hope that you will join me in a resolution to get out and get curious! Avalonia trails have a lot of treasures yet to be found. Happy New Year.
Who left shells at the base of this tree?

Who made this track?

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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