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Explore or relax in your favorite green space at Nature Trails Day

An orange filter fade with the words September 17 Nature Trails Day overlays a view up into the tree canopy.

Growing up on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin I spent my weekends, and sometimes weeknights, in bogs, old-growth forests, and hilly landscapes formed by glacial deposits. Few kids have the opportunity to develop an interest and purpose from up close interactions with these rich ecosystems. Because of these regular visits, a love of hiking and exploration resides in my core. When life is stressful, a return to nature is my best medicine.

Although I live farther from these childhood landscapes, the oak savannas and prairies of Central Illinois trigger my childlike sense of exploration and reawaken a desire to learn more about the birds, bees, trees—every species—that surrounds me. In fact, people both young and old benefit from time in nature, regardless if the space is deemed a natural preserve, a park or a patch of grass. And as luck would have it, there is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors this weekend!

This Saturday, September 17, join University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists at Nature Trails Day. This day of outdoor activities, hiking, and nature exploration for all ages will take place from 10 AM – 3 PM at Sugar Grove Nature Center, located southwest of Bloomington-Normal.

With a collective passion for education in the great outdoors, presenters, community partners, and volunteers are excited to share an afternoon with you. Discover the fun in Imagination Grove with make-believe play and nature-based activities from Illinois Extension. If you are passionate about buzzing bees and pollinators, don’t miss a visit with Central Illinois Beekeepers Association, Children’s Discovery Museum, Illinois Art Station and Illinois Prairie Wild Ones.

Visit Nature Trails Day partners that offer additional information to help you continue exploring natural spaces: Greenways, Fugate Woods Nature Preserve, Parklands Foundation, Illinois Conservation Police and Illinois State University Horticulture Center. Or enjoy education from long-standing Sugar Grove Nature partners and demonstrators: Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association and Illinois Woodturner’s Club.

With so many activities available throughout the day, do not miss these scheduled events:

  • Kids Fun Run with the Lake Run Club, 10:30 AM (Arrive at 10:20 AM)
  • Wildlife Prairie Park
    • Backyard Wildlife 101, 10:30 AM
    • Live Animal Presentation, 11:30 AM
  • Tree ID Walk with U.S. Department of Agriculture, 11 AM & 1 PM
  • U of I Wildlife Medical Clinic, 1:30 PM

Come prepared with comfortable walking shoes and protection from bugs and the sun. Pack a picnic and bring a water bottle or purchase lunch and snacks onsite from Healthy in a Hurry. Water stations will be available throughout the property.

Get a dose of nature’s best medicine at Nature Trails Day. Join University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists in the sunshine and fill-up on Vitamin D. The hazy days of fall and winter will soon return; do not miss this afternoon outdoors.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nick Frillman is a Local Foods and Small Farms Educator serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. A fourth-generation graduate from University of Illinois, Frillman has a B.A. with a double major of Political Science and Spanish and a M.S. in Crop Science with a focus on crop production. Before joining Illinois Extension, Frillman completed a field season of CSA and farmers’ market-style production at a small “beyond-organic” vegetable farm in Sandy, Oregon.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Liz Repplinger is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Coordinator serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. A Bloomington-Normal native, Liz earned a B. A. in Animal Science and an M.S. in Animal Science from Illinois State University. She has enjoyed contributing to the multiple facets of Extension including previous support of the 4-H Youth Development Program as a program coordinator and current support of Unit and Statewide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.