Today we are excited to welcome a guest post from Amy Roell with Great Parks of Hamilton County. Amy is the Outdoor Education Director and has been with the parks for 25 years! Amy shares with us 10 things you can learn just by participating in one the of the classes or events hosted by Great Parks, most of which are free!
There are so many magnificent things about living in our region and many of these things go unnoticed as we go about our daily lives. When I was just out of college, all I wanted to do was move away from boring Cincinnati, Ohio. While I did, I found myself returning a year and a half later.
To my surprise, my return was much like a rebirth. I began to ‘discover’ wonderful things that had been a part of this area all along. So, here is to hoping you’ll take some time to discover the natural beauty around you this winter and spring.
Great Parks of Hamilton County is here to help you in that discovery! Our classes and events, most of which are free, can teach you endless facts about all aspects of nature. See for yourself a small sample of what you could learn at our classes:
- The buzzing sound made by bees is actually their wings beating 11, 400 times per minute!
Details: Honeybees, Parky’s Farm on Saturday, April 18 at 1:30 p.m. (Free) The Southwestern Ohio Beekeepers’ Association will be at Parky’s Farm to work at the beehives, and you are invited to look inside the hives and learn about honeybees at the same time!
- Maple Sugar is a tasty treat that can only be made from the sap of Maple trees. Due to weather conditions and soil conditions, sap to make maple syrup and sugar can only be harvested from the trees that grow in the northeastern United States. That includes Ohio! It cannot be harvested anywhere else in the world.
Details: Maple Sugar Days, Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve on Saturday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1 from noon – 5 p.m. Celebrate the awakening of the trees with the traditional craft of making maple syrup, demonstrations and hikes. Maple treats, including waffles and ice cream, will be available for a small fee.
Details: Amphibians Alive, Woodland Mound on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. (Free) Discover the amazing amphibians native to Ohio, and even meet a few close up!
- Our area is home for North America’s largest rodent. The beaver!
Details: Busy Beaver Bash, Winton Woods on Sunday, March 15 from 1 – 3 p.m. (Free) Come celebrate beavers with themed, hands-on activities.
- The Timberdoodle’s courtship ritual consists of an elaborate aerial dance. The Timberdoodle, an early spring migrant, is commonly known as the American Woodcock.
Details: Timberdoodle Trek, Sharon Woods of Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m. (Free) Join a Great Parks naturalist for a sunset stroll for a close-up look of the courtship display.
- The shape of a bird’s beak and feet can tell you a lot about the bird, like what they eat and the environment they live in.
Details: Beginner Birding Hike, Otto Armleder Memorial Park on Saturday, April 11 at 9 a.m. (Free) Join the naturalist to explore the forests and prairies searching for birds.
- Je sens une jungle cuisine is French for “I smell a jungle meal.” New and interesting phrases, along with songs and poems, is one of the many ways Grammy nominee Zak Morgan educates and motivates children to read, imagine and believe in themselves.
Details: Dinner Series: An Evening with Zak Morgan, Mill Race Banquet Center at Winton Woods on Saturday, March 7 at 7 p.m. (Includes dinner, adult $29.95/ child $14.95) Join us and Zak Morgan for dinner and a night of song that will inspire and tickle the funny bones of children and adults alike.
- Bullfrogs can jump up to 6 feet high.
Details: Animal Olympics, Sharon Woods on Sunday, May 3 at 2 p.m. (Free) Have you ever wondered what an Olympic event with wild animals would be like? We’ll test our skills against some of the fastest and strongest animal talents in our own Animal Olympics!
- Ohio has an official fossil: the Isotelus maximus. It’s the largest trilobite in our area. Complete specimens have been found that are up to 40 cm. in length. Pieces have been found that indicate they could have grown up to 60 cm. long (that’s about 24 inches).
Details: Fantastic Fossils, Miami Whitewhater Forest on Sunday, May 17 at 2 p.m. (Free) Come learn more about what makes our region so fossil-rich and take a peek at the past. We will practice our fossils identification skills inside before we head outdoors to see what can be found in the park.
- Zebra tailed butterflies are forever linked to Pawpaw Trees. Their eggs are laid on them and the caterpillars eat their leaves exclusively.
Details: Wildlife & Pawpaws, Shawnee Lookout on Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m. (Free) Follow the footsteps of ancient cultures and walk along the Miami Fort Trail in search of zebra butterflies, tiger beetles and other wild things under the plethora of blooming pawpaws.
These are just a few of the fascinating programs offered by the Great Parks of Hamilton County. You can see more at greatparks.org/events. I hope you take the time to explore and discover fun things about your backyard this spring!
Amy Roell is the Outdoor Education Director at Great Parks of Hamilton County. She has been with the parks for 25 years this spring and always finds something new and interesting out in the parks. She believes they are beautiful spaces for all of us to enjoy.