Dec
26
6:00 PM18:00

Darke County Birders Club - Meeting

The Darke Co. Birders Club is open to beginning and experienced birders alike. The Club meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center. For more information, contact Steve Miller at 547-3340.

Christmas Carry-in! Bring a dish to share. Kate Young’s Australia Program.

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Winter Bird Hike
Dec
29
9:00 AM09:00

Winter Bird Hike

We'll venture into the winter wonderland of Shawnee Prairie's trails to see what feathered friends are out and about.  Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.  Binoculars will be available to borrow if you would like.  Bird-watchers of all skill levels are welcome.

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Winter Speaker Series: "North to Alaska" - Tom Hissong
Jan
3
6:30 PM18:30

Winter Speaker Series: "North to Alaska" - Tom Hissong

We welcome former Audubon naturalist, Tom Hissong as he takes us along on his “North to Alaska: Cruising the Inside Passage” presentation as we continue our Winter Speaker Series. Tom has completed several ventures north and has many stories to share. Join us for an excellent presentation full of stunning photography and great stories!

Registration Required FREE

Tom Hissong has followed an exciting career path working as an Interpretive Naturalist /Environmental Educator in the Dayton, Ohio area for nearly 41 years.  He retired from his position  as the Education Manager at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm north of Dayton in March of 2017.  Prior to his position at Aullwood Tom served as a naturalist for 2 years with the Five Rivers MetroParks which followed 16 years in the position of Curator of Education with the Dayton Museum of Natural History.  Tom graduated from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio with a B.S. degree in Environmental Education / Field Biology in 1976.  He is well known throughout the Dayton area for his expertise as an avid ornithology instructor / bird watcher and for his enthusiasm in teaching many children and adult classes on natural history topics each year.  Tom has been the planner, organizer and leader of 8 different nine-day expeditions to south Florida and the Everglades for bird study and has led many three-day weekend trips to Pt. Pelee, Canada to watch birds and to northern Michigan to observe the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler over the past thirty years.  Listed among his international expeditions are Australia, the Peruvian Amazon and Andes, Kenya, Panama, High Arctic Norway, Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, and Canadian Rockies.  Awards received include Dayton Tripod Camera Club’s 1984 Nature Photographer of the Year, the EarthWatch / Timken Foundation Research for Renewal -Teacher Fellowship, the National Audubon Society ACE Group Award - Flamingo Watch, 1999 Garden Club of Ohio, Inc.  -  Citation, inducted into Northmont Schools Roll of Honor 2006, 2007 Tamar Chotzen - National Audubon Society Educator of the Year, and 2008 TogetherGreen Leadership Fellow .

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Jan
8
6:30 PM18:30

Friends of the Darke County Parks - Meeting

Consider becoming a Friend of the Darke County Parks and join other community-minded people who share our common goal to “Promote and support the mission of the Darke County Parks through volunteerism and fundraising”. Through your annual dues, you help us purchase the supplies needed for projects such as the Waffle Breakfast, Apple Butter making, and Nature Center Gift Shop items, along with supporting staff educational development and funding public program needs. Join us at our monthly meetings. It’s the best way to know what’s going on in YOUR county parks. Meetings are the first Tuesday of each month 6:30pm at Shawnee Prairie Nature Center, unless otherwise stated below.

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Winter Bird Hike
Jan
12
9:00 AM09:00

Winter Bird Hike

We'll venture into the winter wonderland of Shawnee Prairie's trails to see what feathered friends are out and about.  Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.  Binoculars will be available to borrow if you would like.  Bird-watchers of all skill levels are welcome.

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Jan
16
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Snowmen (Ages 2-3)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Jan
17
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Snowmen (Ages 4-5)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Handfeed a Chickadee
Jan
25
9:00 AM09:00

Handfeed a Chickadee

Call today to reserve your chance to feed a chickadee (or other local songbird) by hand! This popular program yields interesting results each season… from titmice to woodpeckers! Call to reserve a time slot (9am, 10am or 11am) as space is extremely limited. Ages 8 and up only.

Registration Required FREE Ages 8+

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Handfeed a Chickadee
Jan
26
9:00 AM09:00

Handfeed a Chickadee

Call today to reserve your chance to feed a chickadee (or other local songbird) by hand! This popular program yields interesting results each season… from titmice to woodpeckers! Call to reserve a time slot (9am, 10am or 11am) as space is extremely limited. Ages 8 and up only.

Registration Required FREE Ages 8+

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Winter Bird Hike
Feb
2
9:00 AM09:00

Winter Bird Hike

We'll venture into the winter wonderland of Shawnee Prairie's trails to see what feathered friends are out and about.  Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.  Binoculars will be available to borrow if you would like.  Bird-watchers of all skill levels are welcome.

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Feb
5
6:30 PM18:30

Friends of the Darke County Parks - Meeting

Consider becoming a Friend of the Darke County Parks and join other community-minded people who share our common goal to “Promote and support the mission of the Darke County Parks through volunteerism and fundraising”. Through your annual dues, you help us purchase the supplies needed for projects such as the Waffle Breakfast, Apple Butter making, and Nature Center Gift Shop items, along with supporting staff educational development and funding public program needs. Join us at our monthly meetings. It’s the best way to know what’s going on in YOUR county parks. Meetings are the first Tuesday of each month 6:30pm at Shawnee Prairie Nature Center, unless otherwise stated below.

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Winter Speaker Series: "Darke Co. Big Year of Bird Photography" - Chad Arment
Feb
7
6:30 PM18:30

Winter Speaker Series: "Darke Co. Big Year of Bird Photography" - Chad Arment

Join us for the completion of our Winter Speaker Series as we welcome local photographer/birdwatcher, Chad Arment. Chad spent 2018 on a quest to locate and photograph every bird species in Darke County. This project allowed him to work with the Darke County Birders to determine just how many birds have been seen in Darke County over the years, and to set up an introductory local birding website, DarkeBirding.com. Join us as we discover how many species he found and hear the tales of how he went about photographing them all!

Registration Required FREE

Chad grew up in Lancaster Co., PA, and is currently operating the print-on-demand book publishing venture, CoachwhipBooks.com.

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Feb
13
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Groundhog's Shadow (Ages 2-3)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Feb
14
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Groundhog's Shadow (Ages 4-5)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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On the Trail: Weather by the Sky
Feb
21
6:30 PM18:30

On the Trail: Weather by the Sky

Hot or cold; wet or dry; all is revealed with a glance at the sky! Learn how to tell the weather forecast by keeping a head in the clouds. Join us at the Nature Center for this informative session on cloud-reading to help your future trail-time run more smoothly.

Registration Required FREE

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Dec
13
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Pick a Pine Tree (Ages 4-5)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Dec
12
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Pick a Pine Tree (Ages 2-3)

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Natural Wreath-making Workshop
Dec
8
9:00 AM09:00

Natural Wreath-making Workshop

Using natural materials and greenery, learn to create a festive door-hanging swag for your home or to give as a gift! All materials will be provided. Please note, we will not be creating the modern “circular wreath” but instead a traditional swag.

Registration Required

Fee: $15/person

Bish Discovery Center

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Winter Speaker Series:  Thru-hiking the Buckeye Trail - Things That Will Change the Way You See Ohio
Dec
6
6:30 PM18:30

Winter Speaker Series: Thru-hiking the Buckeye Trail - Things That Will Change the Way You See Ohio

Join Darke County Parks as we welcome our first Winter Speaker, Andy Niekamp to Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center on December 6th at 6:30pm. On an 88-day thru-hike of Ohio's Buckeye Trail, Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp made the most amazing long-distance journey of his life. As he walked his home state through wilderness, farmland, small towns, big cities, rural and urban areas, he discovered Ohio in a way that can be only experienced on foot. Captain Blue's stories about the people and places, past and present will change the way you see Ohio. His beautiful photos and experiences will surely inspire you to hike the Buckeye Trail. 

Registration Required   FREE

Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp has been a wilderness adventurer for more than 25 years. This IT professional, turned long-distance hiker has logged over 14,000 miles in more than 30 different states coast-to-coast including 9,500 miles on the Appalachian Trail.

Hiking is Andy's passion and his acclaimed "fountain of youth." He has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail end-to-end four times. While more than 10,000 have completed the Appalachian Trail at least one time, fewer than 12 people worldwide have reported completing the Appalachian Trail four times.

His other long-distance trails include: the Colorado Trail, Vermont's Long Trail, Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail, Kentucky's Sheltowee Trace, Arkansas' Ozark Highlands Trail, the Ohio To Erie Trail, and Bartram Trail.

Andy is the founder and Chief Adventure Officer of Outdoor Adventure Connection, a backcountry guide service based in Dayton, Ohio. Andy has guided hundreds of people on backpacking trips that focus on backcountry skills, education, confidence, and Leave No Trace techniques. His company's motto is Live, Learn and Love Adventure.

Andy is the founder and organizer of Dayton Hikers, a hiking Meetup group. Under Andy's direction, the Dayton Hikers group has grown to be the largest and most active outdoor recreation club in Dayton, Ohio. He, with the help of forty event planners, leads hikes, organizes events, and plans gatherings and presentations for its 4,000+ members.

When he's not hiking, Andy volunteers for Five Rivers MetroParks, the Buckeye Trail Association and Kentucky State Parks. He holds an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems and a Master of Business Administration. He is a life member of the Buckeye Trail Association.

Andy is a popular presenter and motivational speaker. He is a sought-after resource for his experience, knowledge and expertise as a backcountry, long-distance hiker and skills as an educator/trainer.

His goal is to inspire others to get exercise, make friends, explore nature, live a healthier lifestyle and make their community a better place to live!

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Dec
4
6:00 PM18:00

Friends of the Darke County Parks - Meeting

Christmas Carry-in Dinner! Bring a dish or dessert to share.

Consider becoming a Friend of the Darke County Parks and join other community-minded people who share our common goal to “Promote and support the mission of the Darke County Parks through volunteerism and fundraising”. Through your annual dues, you help us purchase the supplies needed for projects such as the Waffle Breakfast, Apple Butter making, and Nature Center Gift Shop items, along with supporting staff educational development and funding public program needs. Join us at our monthly meetings. It’s the best way to know what’s going on in YOUR county parks. Meetings are the first Tuesday of each month 6:30pm at Shawnee Prairie Nature Center, unless otherwise stated below.

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Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland Luminary Event
Dec
1
6:00 PM18:00

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland Luminary Event

Update - Nov. 30th

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland - Rain Plan


Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland is annually one of the staff's favorite events.  This week the weather looked to be quite favorable.  Unfortunately, the Ohio weather had other plans!

Due to the rain and possible storms forecasted, we have gone to a rain-plan.

  • The Nature Center, Log House and Blacksmith will be OPEN. All activities planned for these locations will be a go, including children's craft, decorating cookies, Santa, etc.

  • The luminary trail will lead from the Nature Center to the Log House area at a minimum. We hope to place a longer luminary trail if the weather allows.

  • Parking will occur at the Nature Center instead of the originally planned parking location of 130 Winchester.  Gates will not open until 6pm.

We hope to see some of you tomorrow from 6-9pm at the Nature Center!

If you have any questions, please contact the Nature Center by replying to this email or by calling 548-0165.

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**UPDATE - Nov 28th**

We are working on a rain plan to enact in the event that the rain and storms forecasted occur as expected. The Nature Center and the Log House will still have the scheduled activities (cookie decorating, craft, music, Santa), but the trail will be reduced. Please check Facebook for further updates as we see what the weather brings our way.

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As you hike along the illuminated trail toward the Log House historical area, you will enjoy the crisp air, the bright stars, and perhaps the light crunch of snow on this early December evening. Around the Log House, listen to music of Christmas past as you relax in the comforts of the 18th century. Enjoy a warm drink and snack while you warm up by the campfire and visit with the Parks’ Director. The Nature Center will host a craft by the Greenville DAR as well as gingerbread cookie decorating. The gift shop will be open, offering a selection of unique gifts or that perfect stocking stuffer! Don’t forget to visit with Santa as he will once again be paying us a visit from the North Pole!

NEW FOR 2018:

After last year’s record number of attendees a few changes were required to ensure this popular event continues to run smoothly.  A new parking destination will be located at the 130 Winchester entrance (look for the signs), just east of the main entrance to Shawnee Prairie on OH-502.  From the new parking area, illuminated wagons pulled by tractors will be available to provide transportation to and from the main trail or if you choose, you can extend your walk in the woods by just a short distance all while enjoying even more luminaries!  The main park entrance will be blocked and only those with handicap parking placards or plates will be able to enter. 

On top of the hill, between the Log House and the Nature Center, the Stillwater Stargazers will have telescopes set up and allowing for stunning views into the heavens above. The winter night sky always is spectacular!

Also new for 2018, the Park District is also asking that you call to register for this FREE event.  Registrations only require a moment of time and will allow for more accurate planning regarding the amount of supplies needed for activities and how many vehicles can be expected.  To register, simply call the Nature Center at 937-548-0165 or email at info@darkecountyparks.org.

With the addition of tractor wagon rides, new and easier parking location and all of your other favorites, the Park District is looking forward to a fun-filled evening welcoming in a peaceful holiday season!

Registration Required FREE

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Nov
17
1:00 PM13:00

On the Trail: Fire-starting -- CANCELLED

**THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO A SCHEDULE CONFLICT**

We hope to find a new date for this program, and if one can be found, we will update this listing. Thank you.

**THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO A SCHEDULE CONFLICT**

Fire can be huge benefit while on the trail, but the technique of fire-starting, especially in a less-than-ideal situation, can be elusive!  Join us today for a discussion on fire-starting, tools and techniques.  We'll have plenty of hands-on opportunity, so come prepared to get a bit dirty and leave smelling like a campfire!

Registration Required    FREE

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Nov
15
6:30 PM18:30

Fossils of Ohio

We welcome Tony Rotondo and Glenn Hux of the Mercer County Library to learn about the fossils of Ohio!  We will focus on types of fossils, identification, how they form and an opportunity to make your own fossil to take home.

Registration Required     FREE

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Nov
15
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Owls of Ohio (Ages 4-5)

Owls are nocturnal birds of prey known for their keen sense of vision and silent flight.  Explore the different species of Owls found in Ohio and enjoy a special visitor during this month’s preschool adventure.

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. 

Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Nov
14
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Owls of Ohio (Ages 2-3)

Owls are nocturnal birds of prey known for their keen sense of vision and silent flight.  Explore the different species of Owls found in Ohio and enjoy a special visitor during this month’s preschool adventure.

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. 

Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Blacksmith Workshop
Nov
10
9:30 AM09:30

Blacksmith Workshop

Learn the blacksmith trade from our Master Blacksmith!  This two-day workshop (Nov 10 & 17) will teach you the basics of the 18th-century blacksmith and how to make simple items.  After this workshop, you will be trained and able to interpret the Shawnee Prairie Blacksmith shop and will be asked to donate 40 hours of volunteer time within one year.  

Registration Required      Ages 15+ (parent must be present for those under 18)

Fee: $50 ($25 refunded after 40hours of donated time) ((fee covers both classes))

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Nov
5
6:30 PM18:30

Down to Earth Book Club

The Darke County Parks Down to Earth Book Club’s fall book selection is Gene Everlasting – A Contrary Farmer’s Thoughts on Living Forever. This Ohio author, known as the “Contrary Farmer”, uses his knowledge of farming and gardening in interconnected essays to recount his childhood, adult years and his later years battling cancer.

Reviewers say the essays are “littered with nuggets of truth” and they are like a “musical…gracefully moving toward an acceptance and understanding of what living and dying truly means.”

Please pick up this book and join us on November 5th in discussing things like the longevity and resiliency of chickweed and pigweed in comparison to humans, composting and butchering and other earthy matters but also how to savor life (and even death).

Registration Required.    Call the Nature Center at 937-548-0165

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Candlelight Dinner on the Prairie
Nov
3
5:00 PM17:00

Candlelight Dinner on the Prairie

Step back in time to the 18th Century
The table is set, the servants are in position, and we are poised to provide you a remarkable historical evening in our log house. You’ll enjoy a hearty, hearth-cooked meal served family style and fabulous period entertainment during this unique Candlelit Dinner on the Prairie. The evening is a fund raising event with all proceeds going towards maintenance, repairs, and cultural programming within the log house. 

Space is limited, so please call to reserve your place today. Look no further for a unique-historic event!   

Registration Required    Fee: $50/person or $90/couple

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On the Trail: Water Filtration
Oct
27
1:00 PM13:00

On the Trail: Water Filtration

Try your hand at a variety of water filters and learn the benefits of different types.  Learn what style of water filter will work best for the hikes you find yourself on.  This will be hands-on, so some walking and kneeling may be encouraged. 

Registration Required     FREE

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Owl Prowl Hike Under the Full Moon
Oct
23
7:00 PM19:00

Owl Prowl Hike Under the Full Moon

Walk the trails under the light of the full Moon all while we explore the wild owls that live in Darke County! We will call in owls and hopefully bring them close enough for a glimpse.  Bring a flashlight and dress for the weather.  Meet at Eidson Woods parking lot

Registration Required.  FREE

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Great Pumpkin Hunt
Oct
20
1:00 PM13:00

Great Pumpkin Hunt

A new twist on this old favorite, the pumpkin hunt is still an opportunity to explore the woods on a crisp fall day, but this year will be a little different.  Instead of clues on the map, this year’s pumpkin hunt will be focused on wandering the woods in search of orange colored tricks OR treats! 

Registration Required        Fee: $6

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Oct
18
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Tecumseh Trail Travels (Ages 4-5)

October is one of the most beautiful months to be outside.  We’ll take a walk down the bike path and enjoy the wonder of a fall morning.  Witness the last of the wildflowers, listen to the crunch of leaves beneath your feet and smell the scents of autumn.

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. 

Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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Oct
17
10:00 AM10:00

Parent & Preschooler Adventures: Tecumseh Trail Travels (Ages 2-3)

October is one of the most beautiful months to be outside.  We’ll take a walk down the bike path and enjoy the wonder of a fall morning.  Witness the last of the wildflowers, listen to the crunch of leaves beneath your feet and smell the scents of autumn.

Parent and Preschooler Adventures is a series of monthly, hour-long programs designed to give parents and their preschoolers an opportunity to investigate nature through hands-on activities, hikes, stories, songs, and take-home projects. The “Little Explorers” Wednesday classes are for 2-3 year olds, and the “Seedlings” Thursday classes are for 4-5 year olds. 

Registration is required, and each class has a fee of $2.00.

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