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Program helps families find quality time

By Staff | Feb 6, 2015

Although the chilly morning temperature was below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, families bundled in layered winter wear gathered at Yankauer Nature Preserve on Saturday for the Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s Family Nature Tales program to have some quality time together.

The new Family Nature Tales program, sponsored by a grant from the Nora Roberts Foundation, brings parents and children together for a story and related outdoor activities.

The Nora Roberts Foundation, founded by author Nora Roberts in 2001, supports organizations and programs that promote literacy, the arts, children and humanitarian efforts.

Saturday’s featured story was “The Mitten” by children’s author Jan Brett, about a boy who loses a white mitten in the snow. Animals crowd into the mitten seeking shelter from the cold, but eventually, the boy and his lost mitten are reunited.

After the story, families, led by Yankauer Preserve volunteer Carolyn Maddock, took to the trails to look for animal tracks-and hidden mittens-in the snow.

“(This program) is for families to get out and see the outdoors and learn something about it and have fun,” Maddock said. “As much as we sit at computers and on sofas watching TV, it’s good to remember that we are made to move. Being part of nature is something that brings families together and helps us learn how to take care of nature.”

David Crites attended the program with his wife, Pamela, and children, Drake and Isabella.

Crites said they came because Pamela saw a notice about the event on the Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s Facebook page.

Crites said his children are “infatuated with birds and nature,” and the program fit into his parenting philosophy of learning through experience.

“My wife homeschools the kids, so we take every opportunity for the kids to learn by doing instead of just sitting down and reading a book. We definitely manage our kids’ electronics time because we think it’s important to learn by doing,” he said. “Doing it yourself is definitely a better way to learn.”

Yankauer Preserve, located on Whitings Neck Road in Shepherdstown, is owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society.

The Audubon Society holds many childrens’ and family events throughout the year, and Maddock said the Family Nature Tales program will be held one Saturday each month, year-round.

For more information about the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, visit www.PotomacAudubon.org, find the Society on Facebook or call 304-676-3397.