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Franklin Creek’s youth education programs encourage children’s involvement in nature

FRANKLIN GROVE – Although the Franklin Creek Conservation Association has held events geared towards children before, their new youth programs have become much more focused on getting children outside and learning about the natural world around them. On June 14, the FCCA organized and hosted their first event in their summer series, Closer to the Creek.

This event encouraged kids to get up close and personal with the aquatic habitat that runs through the Franklin Creek State Natural Area. Katie McBride, the Education Programs Coordinator for the FCCA, and Megan, the FCCA intern, led a guided exploration of Franklin Creek while teaching children about water quality, pollution, and invertebrate identification.

By setting up a scavenger hunt of different aquatic creatures, Katie and Megan were able to get the attention of local children and get them engaged in exploring the creek. Although they were tentative at first, as Katie and Megan showed different examples of what could be found in the creek, the children quickly began their investigation of Franklin Creek.

Despite the program being very centered around having fun and exploring, Katie and Megan found many teachable moments where the participants learned more about invasive species, habitat loss, and water pollution. All of the participants said they had a wonderful time, and local ten-year-old Jordan Beck said hunting for crayfish was “even more fun than video games.

The remaining two parts of the summer series will center around the other habitats that occur throughout the Franklin Creek State Natural Area—prairie and woodlands. Playing on the Prairie will be held on July 12 from 5-8 p.

m. and will feature hikes throughout the Franklin Creek State Natural Area’s prairie, and all participants will be able to create their very own tie dye shirt.

For community members who are unable to attend the habitat series throughout the summer, there will be other educational programs and activities available. Later this summer, the Franklin Creek Education Committee plans on unveiling their newly formed Junior Naturalist Program.

This program is full of activities the will encourage exploration in the State Natural Area and teach kids about the natural world around them. Instructions for these activities will be available to pick up inside of the Grist Mill during operating hours and available for printing on the Franklin Creek Conservation association website.

As these activities are completed, Junior Naturalist Certificates will be rewarded.

The Franklin Creek Conservation Association will also be hosting an event for older kids this fall, with a date to be decided upon later.

Eighth grade students and above are invited to come out to a Nature Photography workshop led by Jeff Schlesinger and Ed Kaleta. Here, students will learn the fundamentals of capturing the outdoors through a camera lens.

Adults who want to support these youth education programs are invited to attend the Singing Bird Chautauqua. This event will have food, entertainment, live music, and a live raptor presentation.

All proce from the Singing Bird Chautauqua go directly to funding Franklin Creek Conservation Association’s educational programs.

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