At Huron-Clinton Metroparks, fall family walks, hikes and bike rides are all safe, accessible activities on your doorstep or close by. But even when you can’t get out to a local Metropark, you don’t have to miss out on engaging with nature.
Families looking for safe and fun fall activities that everyone from toddlers to grandparents will enjoy will be happy to know that Huron-Clinton Metroparks is offering new and creative ways to connect with nature.
Through immersive and engaging virtual programming, families can dig into dozens of educational at-home activities right on the Huron-Clinton Metroparks website. As an early response to COVID-19, this resource was launched to help families across southeast Michigan learn more about the wildlife they might see at a Metropark, or even in their own communities.
Make a leaf man or bellow like a bullfrog
Developed by Huron-Clinton Metroparks experts — who run one of the largest interpretive programs in the country — these activities will guide you through plant lifecycles, help you identify pond creatures and teach you how to make a birch bark mokuk (that’s a basket used by Native Americans to collect sap from a maple tree).
“Families can create a DIY bird feeder using plastic recyclables, which is a great way to attract birds to your own backyard and recycle something as well,” says Jennifer Jaworski, chief of interpretive services at Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Then, you can spot the bird-of-the-week featured on the website and watch videos to help expand your knowledge about our feathered friends.
The site was developed entirely with Metroparks expertise and is geared toward a wide variety of age groups and interests, Jaworski says. Use the site to learn binoculars basics, discover deer that live in the Metroparks and create bugs with a fun finger-painting activity. Take a virtual micro-hike with an interpreter, then try it at home. And boost your science know-how through short and easy science experiments in the Science at the Metroparks video series.
Resources for educators made equitable
In addition to continually adding new content to the site, the interpretive staff is also meeting the needs of teachers by developing live synchronous, asynchronous and in-person learning resources to enhance instruction this fall.
“We developed these resources based on excellent feedback from teachers who have participated in our programming within the past two years,” says Jaworski. “These resources are great for any group, school, 4-H club or scout program, and for our 2020-21 school year programming, all costs are waived. We recognize the struggle for schools that now have less funding, and we want to do our part to make sure resources are there for all students. We want to make sure what we are offering is equitable.”
In a way that demonstrates resiliency and flexibility, experts at Huron-Clinton Metroparks are extending creative programming to families in southeast Michigan and beyond.
“Throughout the summer we offered virtual programming for scouts and other groups, of course in Michigan, but across the country as well. It’s a cool story to tell about how we have expanded our reach in different ways,” says Jaworski.
In-person outdoor programming, too!
This fall, families can come to Huron-Clinton Metroparks to enjoy in-person outdoor programming that will immerse small groups in all kinds of nature experiences.
“This September is our 30th anniversary of the Hawk Fest we have at Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown. It’s usually a very big single event, but we have turned it into a monthlong celebration of raptors,” explains Jaworski. “Even though we’re experiencing COVID-19, the raptors will still be migrating and will be up overhead. We’ll be engaging small groups with discussions about osprey or owls or hawks — one type of raptor at a time.”
Check the Huron-Clinton Metroparks website often for programming at all 13 parks, registration details and other fall parks information.
Whether virtual, through school classrooms or in-person outdoor events, families have plenty to do and enjoy at Huron-Clinton Metroparks this fall.