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Connection Corner

5 resources to help you get back to nature this spring

A womand and man lifing up a child by their arms as they walk in the woods

Spring has sprung! March 20 marked the vernal eqinox, the first day of spring – and I am SO excited! Every year I hold high hopes for this season, and (though the signs sometime arrive later than I hoped) spring never disappoints. The grass greens and flower buds poke their heads into the sunshine. Birds fill the air with song. Tree branches begin to put on leaves after being bare all winter.

When all this happens, I just can’t help myself – I have to go outside to play! After a long winter of feeling stuck inside, I rejoice in long walks in the woods, mushroom hunting, and swinging on the playground at the park. (Just a note: If you haven’t been on a swing set in a while, give it a try. It’s super fun – and unexpectedly good exercise.)

Are you ready to head outside, too? If so, we’ve got some great resources to help you make the most of it.

4-H Adventures in Nature

Starting in April, 4-H will offer a series of monthly, nature-based challenges! For each month in which you complete a challenge, your family will receive a special prize to be given out at our Outdoor Adventure Fun Day on Saturday, August 27, 2022. Each month will be a different prize. Plus, you'll get a digital badge to reward your progress! Visit to get started on a grand adventure!

Leave No Trace

Are you looking for advice on how to take care of the environment on your outdoor adventures? Look no further than Leave No Trace. This education-based non-profit has great resources to help people minimize their impact while spending time in nature. Their main 7 Principles are easy to understand and give folks a great framework for behaving responsibly as they recreate. Visit to learn more.

Local OPAL

Local OPAL (Outdoor Playing and Learning) is an amazing website for all things outdoors in the greater Peoria area. It has information on parks and green spaces across 7 counties. Plus, it lists activities, community events, and local clubs and groups that focus on spending time out of doors. Before you head out on your next adventure, visit to learn more.

National Park Service

British historian James Bryce once said, “The national park is the best idea America ever had.” I couldn’t agree more. And the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to preserving the natural and cultural resources of these parks. It has amazing information about all National Park sites, including activities for kids, cultural and historical information, and resources for planning your next trip. Visit to learn more.

Master Volunteers

Adults who are interested in gaining in-depth information on outdoor pursuits should consider becoming an Illinois Extension Master Volunteer. The Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs will encourage you to be a life-long learner and get more involved in your outdoor passions. Plus, you’ll have wonderful opportunities to give back to your community and educate others. Visit to learn more.

Now…go outside and play!


Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.  

She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.    

When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.  


Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.