HOT SPRINGS – Wind Cave will soon wrap up it's "Adventures in Nature" series of programming, on educating youth through their engagement with nature.
Started on January 15th, the program is held every other Tuesday from 10:00 am to noon at the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center. The last program of the series will held on April 9th, focusing on "Prairie Communities".
Geared toward kids 4-10, children are grouped by age and guided through activities. For those younger than 4, parents are encouraged to participate using materials provided by park interpreters.
Last week's lesson taught kids to be "Nature Detectives"—using perception and critical thinking to identify clues in natural environments.
Groups were encouraged to learn how to use their 5 senses to discover clues uncovering how animals interact with their surroundings. Special decoder books were used to identify animals by their tracks. One of three stations challenged groups to guess which animal was a favorite among rangers.
The program culminated with a puppet show narrating the search for a missing ranger badge, summarizing the "detective skills" learned throughout the morning.
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Lennie Ramacher, Assistant Chief of Interpretation at Wind Cave National Park: "Adventure in Nature is a program we've been doing for 10 years now. We do it primarily in the winter months. It' free and open to the public.
"We get a lot of young folks, 3, 4, 5 years old—that toddler and preschool age along with their families. Then, a few years ago, we started to see home school families every week, so we get early elementary kids as well," says Ramacher.
This year, the Adventure in Nature program has seen roughly 30 kids and their families every two weeks—a success to Ramacher and his dedicated staff of rangers and interpreters.
"It's about introducing children to nature.—to get them here, get them in this great outdoor classroom we have, to make sure that they're comfortable in that sort of environment. That's going to give us a lifetime of benefits, for the young people that are exposed to it early on, as well as for the public lands that we're here to care for," Ramacher says.
Wind Cave National Park is on of the oldest parks in America. It's mixed prairie landscape is home to bison, elk, and other wildlife. Hiking and camping is encouraged. The park also boasts the longest and most complex cave system in the world. Tours of the caves are given daily. Contact the Wind Cave Visitor's Center at (605) 745-4600 or visit https://www.nps.gov/wica/index.htm for more details.