WILD 5-0 at Darke County Parks

With age come wisdom, and with wisdom comes special opportunities. The Darke County Park District invites everyone young at heart and wise with age to join them on Friday, May 5th at 1pm for this new series of programs geared toward the “50 and over” crowd at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Spring wildflowers, migrating birds, and fresh leaves will greet participants this season.  Register today for this free program! For any questions about this or any other park district programs or to register, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? Experts claim that spending time in nature boosts memory, increases physical health, and fights depression in older adults.

Civil War Heritage Weekend At Shawnee Prairie Preserve

This weekend the Ohio Valley Civil War Association will bring some of the best military living history presentations in the country to Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Daily military demonstrations at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm will include the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Co. G, 66th Illinois Co. G also known as Birge's Western Sharpshooters, and 1st Ohio Light Artillery Bat. C. Between demonstrations camp visitors can observe daily life for a Union soldier, discuss the war effort with civilians, or marvel at visiting ladies’ latest fashions.

The infantry demonstration features an in-depth look at uniforms, an explanation of the mechanics of black powder firearms, and a performance of basic drill maneuvers including a live black powder firing demonstration. During the sharpshooter presentation, visitors will learn about target rifles, the mechanization process that made the Henry and Sharps repeating rifles possible, and witness an extremely telling speed demonstration comparing a repeating rifle to a standard issue musket. Lastly artillery men will demonstrate each man’s specific tasks in the cannon firing process, show the tools and projectiles used during the war, and fire the smooth bore cannon.

Between the military demonstrations be sure to check out the civilians in camp. The OVCWA Civilians are dedicated men and women who take on first-person personas of real people during the American Civil War. The members portray a range of 1860s civilians: from prostitutes to nuns, farmers to business men, laundresses to telegraphers. Come discuss the war effort, marvel at visiting ladies’ latest fashions, and find out how they kept our country running with the work force away fighting. Special for this event, Mrs. Adelicia Acklen of Nashville will regale visitors with stories from her life on a southern plantation, and the captain will demonstrate his beautiful calligraphy skills from his life before the army.

The OVCWA has taught at Manassas, Kennesaw Mountain, Stones River, and Gettysburg National Battlefields. They have partnered with Darke County Parks in July of 2012, April of 2015 and 2016, and Darke County Parks is proud to welcome them back to Shawnee Prairie again.

This free, family friendly event has something to interest everyone. From the military veteran to the seamstress, the cook to the doctor, and everything in between, come see how all these pursuits unfolded over 150 years ago. For any questions or more information about this exciting and unique event, please call the nature center at (937) 548-0165, or send an email to info@darkecountyparks.org

Early Morning Discovery Hikes At Darke County Parks

The Darke County Park District invites the public to join them every Tuesday morning at 8am at Shawnee Prairie Preserve at 4267 St. Rt. 502 west of Greenville for their Early Morning Discovery Hikes. These hikes allow adults a chance to watch the seasons change and to discover the many life forms in their own backyard. The slowly warming temperatures make this a great time to enjoy and learn about nature. These walks focus on bird watching, trees, fungi identification, and much more. Attendees are asked to bring a pair of binoculars if possible; otherwise some are available for loan. Hikes will be held rain or shine. If you have any questions about the Early Morning Discovery Hikes or any other program offered by the park district, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or visit the website at www.darkecountyparks.org.

Did you know? Native American ate wild hyacinth bulbs baked, dried, raw, and roasted.

Darke County Parks Summer Camps

For over a decade, Darke County Parks summer camps have been an annual tradition for families. In the parks continued commitment to get kids outside to learn, appreciate, and enjoy nature, they offer two styles of camps, day camps and mini camps. The classic day camps are similar to the format the parks has done for the last ten years featuring crafts, take home items, lots of nature, and fun.

The day camps include hand on activities, a t-shirt, a snack, and fun take home items. Camps for 6-7 year olds are as follows. “Things With Wings,” a flight themed camp, will run June 19th through 23rd from 10am to 12pm with a $65 fee being charged, and “Rocks,” a geology camp, will run June 26th through 30th from 10am to 12pm with a $65 fee being charged.

The camps for 8-9 year olds include “Trailblazers,” an adventure and hiking themed camp on July 10th through 14th from 10am-12pm with a $70 fee, and “Ocean Explorers,” a sea themed camp on July 24th through 29th from 10am-12pm with a $70 fee.

The 10-12 year old camps are “Let’s Paddle,” a canoe and kayak camp on June 12th through 16th from 1pm to 4pm with a $75 fee, and “Survive the Ohio Territory,” a survival themed camp on July 31st through August 4th from 10am-12pm with a $75 fee.

The final day camp offering is “Adventure Zone,” an action packed camp for 13-15 year olds on July 17th through 21st from 10am-4pm with a $125 fee.

The two mini camps for 6-9 year olds offer a condensed program with three days of camp involving hands on activity, take home crafts, and lots of time outdoors. The sessions offered are “Stamp into Nature,” a letterboxing camp on Monday, June 12th through Wednesday, June 14th from 9:30am-12pm with a $30 fee, and “Christmas in July,” a Christmas themed camp on Wednesday, July 5th through Friday, July 7th from 10am to 12pm.

For more information about any of these camps or to sign children up, please contact the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or email info@darkecountyparks.org.

Down to Earth Book Club

The Darke County Park District would like to remind everyone of the Down to Earth Book Club’s spring selection. For their sixth season, they will read The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures Among Bats’ Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales by Diane Ackerman. In a rare blend of scientific fact and poetic truth, the acclaimed author of A Natural History of the Senses explores the activities of whales, penguins, bats, and crocodilians plunging headlong into nature and coming up with highly entertaining treasures.

This season’s book club will meet on Monday, May 1st at 6:30pm at the Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center. Each quarter the Down to Earth Book Club has featured a different book, some by well-known nature writers, some about outdoor adventure, and even some about pioneers settling Ohio. Everyone is invited to read the book and join them at the Nature Center to discuss the work, enjoy some yummy treats.

Please call ahead to let them know you plan on participating in the book club discussion. The Darke County Parks Nature Center can be reached at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? Crocodiles jaws have 24 teeth that are meant to grasp and crush, not chew. They swallow stones that grind food inside their stomachs and also act as ballast.

Captivating Civilian Impressions at Civil War Heritage Weekend

The Ohio Valley Civil War Association not only brings top notch military presentations, but also incorporates the fascinating civilian side as well. Visit them on Saturday April 29th and Sunday April 30th at Shawnee Prairie Preserve on State Route 502 west of Greenville and step back in time. While many able bodied young men enlisted to fight on both sides of the War Between the States, women were left to keep life running at home, in the shops, and on the farms. Sometimes this even brought them into camp as a nurse, camp follower, or visitor bringing comforts of home. Civilian men also had roles to play in the war effort, like the displaced farmer turned cook for the army or preacher providing comfort to the anxious or grieving families.

The civilians of the OVCWA are dedicated men and women who take on first-person personas of real people during the American Civil War. They educate, entertain, and enlighten visitors on a wide variety of topics and issues our ancestors faced. The members portray a full gamut of Civil War civilians: from prostitutes to nuns, farmers to business men, laundresses to telegraphers. The Civil War Civilians are devoted to educating the public about the many roles civilians, especially women, filled during the Civil War. Come discuss the war effort, marvel at visiting ladies’ latest fashions, and find out what it took to keep our country running with the work force away fighting. Special for this event, Mrs. Adelicia Acklen of Nashville will regale visitors with stories from her life on a southern plantation, and the captain will demonstrate his beautiful calligraphy skills from his life before the army. Visit Shawnee Prairie on April 30th or May 1st to see it all.

Make sure to make time between talking to civilians to observe daily life for a Union soldier, hear the cannon blast, watch men drill, and smell a soldier’s supper simmering. Daily demonstrations at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm will include the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Co. G, 66th Illinois Co. G also known as Birge's Western Sharpshooters, and 1st Ohio Light Artillery Bat. C. The OVCWA has taught at Manassas, Kennesaw Mountain, Stones River, and Gettysburg National Battlefields.

They have partnered with Darke County Parks in July of 2012, April of 2015 and 2016, and Darke County Parks is proud to welcome them back to Shawnee Prairie again. This free, family friendly event has something to interest everyone. For any questions or more information about this exciting and unique event, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165, or email to info@darkecountyparks.org

Take Flight: A Celebration of Our Feathered Friends at DCP

Join Darke County Parks to celebrate birds on Earth Day! On Saturday, April 22nd from 7am to 2pm spend the day with family exploring the wild birds that call our region home.

This fun-filled birding festival will take place at Shawnee Prairie Preserve on St. Rt. 502 just west of Greenville. The festivities will begin with “Breakfast with the Birds,” a fundraiser by the Darke County Birders Club, which will offer breakfast bites in an effort to raise money to care for Greta, the Darke County Parks’ owl. Five Rivers MetroParks will join the celebration with a wide selection of the birds of prey animal ambassadors. See a Screech Owl, Kestrel, and a Red-tailed Hawk up close, and learn about these amazing animals! The day will continue with a variety of bird-themed activities for all ages, walk, workshops, and more!

Join the naturalists to discover who’s nesting around the Nature Center or a lunch-time chat about bird feeding. At 7:30am avid birders can enjoy a discovery hike, with an 8:30am beginners bird walk to follow. The whole family can discover birds together on the 9am hike, and ongoing after 10am there will be nest box building, a bird feeder craft, toys that fly, bird bingo, workshops on gardening for birds, backyard bird feeding, time to explore the Natural Play Area, and much more. From 11am to 1pm the Friends of the Parks will be offering a quick hotdog lunch. The park staff and volunteers hope to see everyone enjoying Earth Day on the trails of Shawnee Prairie!

If you have any questions about this or any other program offered by the Darke County Parks, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or visit the website at www.darkecountyparks.org

Every Woman Has a Story Series

The Friends of Darke County Parks is excited to announce the first event of their exciting new series “Every Woman Has a Story.” Join them on Saturday, May 20th from 10am to 1pm in the Darke County Parks’ log house for a special ladies’ brunch to celebrate women and their stories. The first session will highlight local glassware collector, Ms. Mitzi Johnson. She will discuss how she got interested in this hobby and show some of her unique collection. They are getting out the special china, so dress in vintage style and wear your favorite hat! There will be door prizes and prizes for the best bought and handmade hat worn.

The menu will include: special breakfast casserole, waffles with fruit and real cream topping, chocolate dipped strawberries, coffee, and tea. The cost is $20 per person at the time of reservation. To register, mail a note with your name, email, and phone number along with payment to Friends of Darke County Parks P.O. Box 801 Greenville, Ohio 45331.

For questions or more information, contact Friends’ President Barbie Hansbarger at (937) 447-3355.

Did you know? Cut glass, like this decanter, is much more valuable than glass made by pressing into a mold.

Get “5K Fit” with DCP

Have you always wanted to try a 5K but never got around to it? Are you tired of those holiday pounds sticking around? Do you just need some motivation to get healthy? Darke County Parks is hosting a fitness program called 5K Fit every Thursday @ 5:30pm from now through May 18th. Join them throughout the spring to get healthy. They’ll have three different programs for you to choose from (walking, walking/jogging, and running) to suit your fitness needs and help you work towards a healthier lifestyle.

With everyone setting their own goals and moving at their own pace, feel free to join them at any point during the program. For every time you attend, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Raptor Run/Walk” on Saturday August 5th at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Please dress for the weather and bring a timing device and water bottle. For questions or weather updates, call the Nature Center at 548-0165.

Did you know? Because of hills, wind, avoiding puddles, people, and obstacles, walking outdoors burns more calories than walking on a treadmill.

Wondrous Wildflower Hike with DCP

Join Darke County Parks for their spring hiking series as they explore the sensations of spring. Each week of Spring brings a new wave of wildflowers to the forest floor of Coppess. On Wednesday, April 19th at 6pm join a naturalist to see what’s blooming at Coppess Nature Sanctuary located on Young Rd. one half mile south of St. Rt. 47 between Ansonia and Union City. Who knows what the season’s weather will bring, so keep the conditions in mind when you dress for the hike. The hike will continue rain or shine, but please wear boots for the mud if it has been rainy. For more information about this or any of the other exciting hikes in this season’s series or other park district programs, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? Claytonia virginica, more commonly known as spring beauty, also goes by the name fairy spud.