Let's start this post with a huge shout out for Amy Dombrowski, who heads up the environmental education programs at two Wake County parks.
She led a recent program that I took my three-year-old to at Crowder District Park in Apex. She was energetic and fun and able to fully engage the group of young children there. She tells me she loves her job and it was clearly evident that morning. My daughter is still singing the bug version of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," which goes "Head, Thorax, Abdomen."
The "Dazzling Dragonflies" program was part of the park's Nature Watchers series for kids ages 3 to 5 and their adults. The monthly hour-long morning programs include a story, song, game, craft and short nature walk. During this program, my daughter made a dragonfly with a clothespin, played a dragonfly game and took a walk down to the pond that was dotted with dragonflies, turtles and ducks, among other activities. It's pretty amazing how much Dombrowski packed into that 60 minutes. Destination: Nature programs at Crowder District Park
It's just one of the many programs at the 33-acre county park off Ten Ten Road. There are weekday programs for homeschooling families and young children. Nature Families is designed for families of all ages. Nature Friends, another weekday program, is for ages 6 to 9.
For busy working families, the park offers plenty of options too. They include monthly Sunday afternoon programs and Friday evening programs. Upcoming topics include Twilight Creatures on Sept. 6 and reptiles on Sept. 22.
The programs are a fun way to extend a visit to the park, which also includes trails, a pond, picnic areas and three playgrounds. It's a popular spot for families and worth a drive even if you don't live nearby.
"It's a great way for families to come out and experience the park in a new way," said Dombrowski, who grew up nearby. "It's a perfect way to do hands-on science and learn a little bit about Piedmont wildlife."
Even better, the cost is low. The programs typically cost less than $5 or so even for a large family.
Most of the programs require pre-registration. But if you're not one to plan ahead, there are some drop-in programs too. The Family Pond Studies meet on the pond boardwalk and focus on the aquatic creatures in Crowder Pond. They are all free. The next one is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 15.
We'll be back!
For more about all that Crowder Park has to offer and to register for an upcoming program, go to the park's website. Watch my video interview with Amy to hear more and see some scenes of the dragonfly program.
And while this post focuses on Crowder Park, all of Wake's other parks also offer nature programs. Check the Crowder Park link just above to find information about all of the county's parks and programs.