Saturday, September 21, 2013

September events connect children and volunteers with nature in state parks

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RALEIGH – Parents, grandparents and caregivers can help children connect with nature during special events at North Carolina’s state parks in September, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

Take A Child Outside Week, which is Sept. 24-30, features special ranger-led programs at all state parks in a concerted effort to introduce young people to the outdoors and healthful activity. A touchstone of the week is National Public Lands Day Sept. 28 when many state parks will offer opportunities to volunteer and build an ethic of natural resources stewardship.

“State parks have always been safe but exciting places for people to rediscover nature, offering miles of trails, free interpretive programs by rangers and nature museums,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “Now more than ever, there are new opportunities for families to explore the natural wonders of North Carolina’s state parks and to get directly involved in improving them.”

North Carolina’s state parks join environmental groups everywhere in presenting special nature programs during Take A Child Outside Week. The global celebration originated in 2006 in North Carolina. Take A Child Outside Week offers both a rallying call and a website, www.takeachildoutside.org, to help kids choose nature trails and fresh air rather than video games.

Research has shown that engaging children in nature promotes learning, creativity and healthy lifestyles. Along with special interpretive programs during the week, all state parks offer an award-winning Junior Ranger program for children ages 6-12 who wish to discover even more while earning distinctive patches from the parks. Twelve state parks offer self-guided hiking trips with marked trails that help explain the trails’ natural features.

The 20th annual National Public Lands Day is Sept. 28 and gives volunteers a chance to make a difference in the state parks. Nine state parks will have volunteer service projects and many others will celebrate the day with hikes and special programs. Volunteers can help build a new trail at Elk Knob State Park, remove litter by canoe at William B. Umstead State Park, repair a fishing pier at Falls Lake State Recreation Area or plant native wildflowers at Lake James State Park. Complete information about state parks and their programs can be found at www.ncparks.gov.


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