Rachel Carson said, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
This year, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is expanding its Youth and Family Programs by adding a host of field trips, nature walks, school programs, and speaker programs designed specifically for Loudoun’s K-12 citizens. We know our young stewards are the future of conservation and people and wildlife living in harmony. Please check our programs calendar to sign up!
One of the main features to this new effort is the addition of the “We’re Going Wild” Family Nature Walks, a series of discovery hikes in various natural habitats all over the county, and led by seasoned naturalists. These walks are special because they are EDU-taining and designed to be hands-on, unstructured to allow for deeper exploration of findings, and FUN!
They are not just for the kids, but also for their families! When families go wild together, a special process of shared learning takes place…where adults and children are students together as equals. This is a significantly powerful paradigm shift that creates a richer learning environment for children learning alongside their adult role models! This further fosters applying new knowledge together outside of our programs–in your own backyards and communities.
Our first “We’re Going Wild” walk took place Sunday, May 17th at Algonkian Regional Park on The Woodlands trail along the beautiful Potomac River. Local entomologist and naturalist, Ed Clark, led an enthusiastic and inquisitive group of families who seemed to have an EYE for wildlife! Highlights of the many exciting finds on their 1.5 mile hike were a Broad-headed Skink, North American Millipedes, 6-spotted Tiger beetles, Blue-Black beetles, Skippers, and this season’s Eastern Tent Caterpillars and their tented silk nests. Additionally, hikers studied the difference between a beetle and a true bug, as well as between dragonflies and damselflies.
Plant ID included Poison Hemlock, Poison Ivy, Bush Honeysuckle/ Barberry Bush/Autumn Olive (providing the platform for a talk about non-native plants), Multi Floral Rose, Pawpaw trees (host plant for Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly), Wingstem (native aster blooming yellow later in summer), Deer Tongue plant, Morning Glory and Bindweed, Virginia Creeper, Common Milkweed (host plant for Monarch Butterflies), and Sycamore trees.
Our families also found the handiwork of wood-peckers on trees, identified as work of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker based on the pecking patterns in the tree bark, and they enjoyed learning the distinct songs of the Cedar Waxwing, Warbling Vireo, and Gray Catbird.
What an exciting day spent outdoors on the trail together!