Monday, September 19, 2016

Getting Real with Hike and Seek!

By Beth Sullivan
As part of Avalonia’s Mission Statement, we strive to foster appreciation for our wonderful natural resources though education in various ways. Because we are an all-volunteer organization, whose members have busy active lives, we cannot always be where we want to be-to lead hikes, present programs, or offer classes the way other organizations can do so well with their dedicated staff.

So, we brainstormed. We are beginning to employ educational signage on some of our preserves in addition to the historical signs that have been on several properties for years. This allows visitors a chance to get a better understanding of the area they are exploring. We have also expanded our website to include so much more information about the preserves, such as photos, maps, and descriptions. However, we wanted to give people a reason to explore, a motive or goal to really look at things as they hike.
A big hole in a tree can have many uses. This one is at Simmons Preserve.

Last year my goal was to walk all the trailed properties Avalonia has to offer. I hiked, photographed and enjoyed all the unique details of each preserve. Then it was a natural progression to see how we could encourage others to do the same. With major technical IT help ( thank you Kent), an area where I am sorely lacking, we developed an idea to point out real elements in nature.
So, as part of our Discover Avalonia initiative: Get ready to Hike and Seek!
Let us guide you in a unique way, on journeys of your own choosing.
At Fennerswoods, a tree seedling took root in a crack in a rock and grew

Showcasing 24 preserves in 5 towns and with the website to guide you, we challenge one and all to explore with the goal of learning a bit more, thinking deeper, pondering and perusing, and then, documenting your found clues with photos and your smart phone.
Ideally created for those who have social media and technology at their fingertips, it is also great for families. Parents can help children explore the photo clues then encourage them to find the targets along the trail. Sharing can be done by using the #avaloniahikeandseek hashtag for Instagram and Facebook, or by posting your photos in the photo album for each preserve on Avalonia’s Facebook page. Instructions and clues are all in one place on the Hike and Seek web page, here. More information and maps are readily available through links to the main Avalonia website. All are mobile friendly. The program is free to all, and registration is optional but will allow us to contact parents or leaders with updates and notify participants of occasional seasonal celebrations for all Seekers.
At Knox Preserve, new signs help teach and inspire.

There is no real beginning, no end, no competition, and no stress.
If you are tired of watching people, young and old, walk around glued to their phones, looking for imaginary creatures and totally ignoring their natural surroundings, this is for you.
Looking for real things in nature is ever so much better than looking for virtual creatures. Photograph by Heather Milardo.

Beautiful hiking weather is finally here. There are targets to be found now. Over time we will add more goals that may be seasonally dependent to keep every trip interesting and new.
We look forward to seeing your submissions and hearing your comments.
Avalonia has worked hard to acquire and protect so much beautiful land here in SE CT. Our mission is to help you learn about it and appreciate it so that you and your families will help us carry the effort forward into the next generations.
Have fun.
There are many different wetlands on Pine Swamp Preserve. 

Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless otherwise noted.

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