Get outside year-around

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    Despite some recent record-breaking temperatures, winter weather isn’t over yet. But that doesn’t mean families should go into hibernation until the next 70-degree Saturday.

    In fact, the Missouri Department of Conservation offers people of all ages some seasonal reasons to get outside year-around. Consider programs like the Early Birders event, hosted Thursday at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center for children ages 4 to 7, or an all-ages after-school session on maple sugaring on Thursday at Rockwoods Reservation.

    These are just a few of the many programs designed to educate Missourians about nature. And as the weather warms, the department will schedule even more family-friendly programs, including large-scale events like the annual Wetlands for Kids Day in early April at August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area.

    “We hope to try to instill an appreciation and understanding of nature in the next generation,” says department spokesperson Dan Zarlenga, “because they are going to be the ones to pick up the torch on conservation and carry it into the future.”

    Other offerings, such as night hikes and canoeing classes, tend to be popular for people who might be hesitant to try some of the activities on their own. “If they have to opportunity to do it in a guided situation, they tend to be more comfortable,” says Zarlenga.

    And whether families are interested in archery or angling, the department offers opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences in a safe environment. “Just try it,” encourages Zarlenga. “Most people are glad they did and even say they wish they’d done it sooner.”

    Click here for more information and to register for events in the St. Louis area. Or sign up to receive the monthly Conservation Connections newsletter.

    Charlene Oldham is a writer and teacher. She lives in Crestwood.

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