For my family, one of our favorite times of the year is Spring! We love celebrating the changing of the seasons (even if we do not see it much here in Florida), we love seeing the flowers growing, hearing the birds chirping, and most of all we love celebrating Earth Day!
This year we decided to check out the Earth Day Celebration that Okeeheelee Park’s Nature Center had on April 13th. Okeeheelee Park is one of our favorite weekend getaways, but the real hidden gem at the park is the Nature Center. Many people do not know that it even exists! Inside the nature center it has cages that have alligators, snakes, and turtles. Sometimes the gift shop will have an owl or raptor perched by the register. There is a great hands-on museum to learn about the ecosystems & geology of South Florida inside as well! Around the nature center is a butterfly garden and some of the best covered (and shaded!) walking paths through pine flats that Okeeheelee Park has to offer. The paths take you to different overlooks for deer and gopher tortoises even! Whenever we go to the Park we go on the trails by the nature center because it is a little hidden oasis back there (and almost completely secluded)!
Earth Day Celebration
The Earth Day Celebration was a blast! The park staff had different stations set up so families could walk around the center and do hands-on activities, take guided nature walks, sit in on a various lectures, and meet local naturalists in the area who are working towards conservation efforts. One of the most entertaining activities for the kids was dissecting owl pellets – which is like a hair ball for an owl. Since an owl cannot digest bones, fur, etc. they cough these up as pellets. The kids were able to dissect these pellets & then identify the fragments they found!
Several other activities included a lesson on the importance of bees and learning how they made honey, identifying different Florida plant leaves, face painting, geode cracking, birdhouse building, and garden building! Another popular activity was the guided native plant talk around the butterfly garden. There the children were able to learn about native versus non-native plants, and were able to count how many different beautiful butterflies they could find.
At the end of the celebration my boys were exhausted, but absolutely excited about nature and the Earth. They had learned so much from all the different activities and people they met. We hope we can make it to the next Earth Day Celebration in 2020!