Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Outdoors Day at Hills Creek State Park

"There it is!" said one of the kids as she pointed to the top of the tree where a baltimore oriole was perched and singing! All heads of the 15 or so present turned to look. Binoculars trained on that bright orange bird in the tree and I immediately heard shouts of, "wow!," "cool!," and "Awesome!"

This morning I had a great experience sharing my love of birds with 90 sixth graders from the Mansfield Area at Hills Creek State Park. I got to be part of a team which consisted of park staff and volunteers who worked to provide the kids with experiences in birding, fishing, geocaching, and hiking among other things. I was amazed at the response of the kids and thankful that the birds provided some very good experiences for them!

We got to watch two ospreys on their nest, see a couple of baltimore orioles, four chipping sparrows, a pine warbler, and even had a black-billed cuckoo fly by the birding station!

The best way to inspire every next generation to care about birds as well as other wildlife is to help others experience wildlife for themselves. The best conservation strategies mean nothing without that connection that inspires a child (or an adult!) to care about wildlife and wild spaces.

My primary task as I understood it today was to create a space for a heart change to happen through an experience with wildlife in wild spaces.

I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this special day.

As we seek to live into community with all that has life in Jesus' name and invite others to join us, I suggest that the most meaningful thing we can do is to invite others to experience wildlife and wild spaces for themselves. When it all comes down to it, it is special experiences like the ones had today which create lasting memories that inspire care and concern for the osprey, the Baltimore oriole, and other wildlife and wild spaces.

(Me with Park Naturalist Marissa and DCNR Summer Intern Emily)

(a Baltimore oriole; one of the species that provided a very good experience for the kids today!)

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