Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
‘Little Trackers’ Offered Fun and Learning for Families
Kids love to learn about animals and they love to have fun in the snow. They got to do both at the recent ‘Little Trackers’ outing sponsored by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust. This event was the second in MMRG’s new ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program of activities that creates opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors together while learning about nature, in order to foster future generations of conservationists.
Coverts volunteers Emily Lord of UNH Cooperative Extension and Middleton Pastor Tom Gardner planned a variety of activities to keep kids interested and having fun as they explored the snowy field and woods at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills. Kids went sledding, tried out walking in snowshoes, and crowded around the leaders as they pointed out signs of wildlife on a trail leading down to the river.
Turkey tracks, coyote tracks, and possible skunk and fox tracks were all discovered. Kids learned to compare the tracks in the snow to the footprints pictured on tracking ID cards that were handed out. They also learned that wildlife scat, better known as ‘poop’, could be examined (poked at with a stick) to find out what the animal had been eating and identify the creature that left it. Coyotes, for example, often eat small rodents and leave scat filled with bones and fur on top of a rock or in the middle of a trail to mark their territory.
At the edge of the woods, kids stood still and listened intently after Emily Lord whispered for quiet. Upon the approach from field to forest, she had started to hear sounds of birds and wanted the children to notice them. Among the bird songs, the ‘dee-dee-dee’ call of Chickadees was familiar and successfully identified by one young participant.
Tom Gardner delighted kids with his ‘discovery’ of a pile of pretend deer poop (planted in advance) consisting of raisinets that looked uncannily like the real thing. After clear instructions that they should never eat real deer scat, kids followed Gardner’s lead and happily popped some into their mouths.
At the end of the outing, almost-4-year-old Caleb, son of Tom and Amy Gardner, proclaimed “I like coming here.” When asked what he saw, he remembered the turkey tracks and pointed them out on his tracking card.
An East Wakefield family of five were newcomers to the ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program. The mother of three was enthusiastic, saying, “I’m always looking for family activities and I was happy to find these events. My 6-year-old twins really liked snowshoeing; it was a great chance for them to try it out today with the loaner snowshoes.”
‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ stands for Members Only Outdoor and Social Events for Families and the program of six ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ activities per year is free for MMRG members. Membership is $25 per household per year. Other 2018 upcoming events are: ‘Ponding with Sally Cornwell’ on May 19, ‘Rail Trail Scavenger Hunt’ on June 23, the 16th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival on August 11, and ‘Family Moonlight Walk’ on September 22. Scholarships are available; call Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns at (603) 473-2020 to inquire.
MMRG is a non-profit land trust educational outreach organization; see www.mmrg.info. Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.