As much as we hate to admit it, we are entering the last weeks of summer. The county fair is over and last week's bike riders are all home, talking about the great time they had in the communities across Iowa. Before too long, school halls will be filling with anxious students ready for another year of structured learning.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of working an assignment of taking pictures at the Explorers Day Camp sponsored by the Palo Alto County Conservation Board. As the campers were wrapping up their four days at Kearney State Park in Emmetsburg and after consuming a delicious plate or two of apple crisp, Naturalist Miriam Patton handed them a flyer to take home. I picked one up myself.
The flyer entitled "The Nature Connection Pyramid" encourages exploring the outdoors. Although it was designed for children, there is a lesson in it for all of us.
The base of the pyramid encourages daily interaction with nature and is called the Outdoor Nature Play layer. It says to make time every day for unstructured play! Run on the grass, climb trees and get your hands dirty! Sounds like fun to me.
Next up on the pyramid is Nature Exploring and suggests exploration on a weekly basis. These activities include nature walks, gardening, bird watching, rock collecting, identifying plants and exploring tide pools. I for one, love the time I spend in my garden each week.
The pyramid also suggests supporting the area parks on a monthly basis. We here in Palo Alto County have over 2,500 acres of public forest, parks, marshes and prairie available to us. Of the 23 wildlife areas managed by the Palo Alto County Conservation, ten of them are within six miles of Emmetsburg with the rest spread out in the county.
Our county conservation system also has nine miles of trail available for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross county skiing. There is even a marked water trail that connects three lakes and tree marsh areas. At the suggestion of the conservation folks, if you take the notion to check the water trail out, be sure to take into consideration water levels.
The final level of the pyramid makes the suggestion to yearly visit a place that is far from buildings, pavement and city sounds.
From the looks of things, Palo Alto County residents have ample opportunities to explore lots of nature close to home. We have lakes for boating and fishing, parks for camping, hiking, picnicking and enjoying the fresh air along with a number of marshes and prairies to explore.
Like the pyramid says, "Find Wilderness and Go Wild!