Hiked and Sought – One Family’s Experience of Hike and Seek
There in the middle of the path was a small exuberant lady with curly hair. On a log by her feet were pine needles, tulip poplar seeds and a variety of leaves balanced in a row. A caterpillar crawled around inside a little recycled spice jar. (Spice jars inherently have air holes – where the spices come out!) We had found our own nature elf in the middle of the woods who just couldn’t wait to chat with our family.
The volunteer’s name was Marianne and she handed my four-year-old son a magnifying glass. He examined a tulip poplar seed from all angles before picking it apart down to a nub. She showed my seven-year-old daughter how a white pine tree grows its needles in groups of five, and we could remember that because the word “white” had five letters. We stood there in the woods, listening to the trees creak, and this lovely volunteer jumping from one nature fact to another, like the squirrels jumping through the branches.
Such was our experience of Hike and Seek, National Wildlife Federation’s new program to connect people and nature.
My kids were surprisingly good at matching recorded bird songs and photos. I got the mallard and Canada goose mixed up – but my daughter knew the answer right away. The volunteers at that station got a kick out of my son who would not take his hood down for fear of being hit in the head by an acorn-toting squirrel. What a “nature boy” – or not!
The volunteers had just found a skull on the ground near their station, so we all brainstormed together what type of animal it could be. Can anyone identify it? We were guessing a carnivore because of the sharp tooth in the front. It’s bigger than a squirrel – maybe a fox?
My kids loved the “fishing” activity. They carefully maneuvered their magnetic fishing rods to pick up wildlife photos. The photos had a paper clip on each one so the magnets would work. They fished the whole “pond” until it was empty and thanks to Luisa the volunteer who managed to keep them entertained for a full 15 minutes, including detangling their fishing lines and coaching them on their fishing accuracy.
It had rained the whole week before, and it rained again after, but that morning was a crisp autumn morning. We were impressed by the good volunteers who came out and made it special for our family and many others.
Thanks to the volunteers!