Mistletoe State Park’s Seasonal Naturalist, Julie Ashley, will lead two Junior Ranger programs this winter. The first will be held Monday, Jan. 21, which falls on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“Wildlife in the Winter” will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. It is open for children ages 6 to 12 and costs $20 per person.
“We’ll learn about deer, foxes, beavers, raccoons, otters and birds of prey,” said Program Assistant Brenda Bettross. “We’ll see how they survive in the winter, their adaptations, their fur coats, their needs and their habitats.”
In addition to feeding the birds, participants will get an up-close look at a live snake.
“We will also create something relating to wildlife to take home,” said Bettross.
The program is open to 15 children and registration must be made by 3 p.m. today, Jan. 20, by calling the park office at (706) 541-0321.
The second program, set for Feb. 18, centers around outdoor survival skills. It is open to children ages 8-12 and will run from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Cost of this program is $20 per child and registration must be made by Feb. 15.
“Two hundred years ago kids couldn’t microwave pizza for lunch and target practice wasn’t for fun; it helped put food on the table,” said Bettross. “In this one-day Junior Ranger program, kids will learn to make a fire and cook over it. They’ll also build a shelter and be introduced to archery.”
Participants must bring their own sack lunch for each of the programs and will earn a Junior Ranger badge for participating in each program.
“Through these programs, I hope children learn that the woods are not a scary place but a place full of adventure, that there is a variety of wildlife that make Columbia County home and each type have their own habitats and basic needs to survive,” said Bettross.
“Since many people venture in the woods without being prepared, I would like to think these Junior Ranger programs help youngsters be more prepared, observant and aware of their surroundings when they venture into the woods.
“Most importantly, we want them to gain a respect and appreciation for our natural resources that they will carry into adulthood and share with others.”