Watoga offering Naturalist activities

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Watoga State Park naturalist Cheryle Boggs wants you to get in touch with nature. Each year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Boggs offers daily activities at the park which get you closer to the creatures and plant life of the county.

“I pick my favorite things to do and, depending on the reaction I get back, that’s how I pick what to offer,” Boggs said. “I used to do a lot of crafts but trying to come up with interesting crafts can be hard.”

Some of the activities Boggs has this summer include making plaster tracks, a creek crawl, walks to find invasive plants and ferns, and studies of animals including birds and box turtles.

“We have molds for making tracks,” Boggs said. “I’ll get the molds out, then they’ll pick their track and we’ll pour the plaster. Then, we play the card game where they start to learn the tracks and we go outside to find tracks. Then we come back in and peel out the molds, and they can take them home.”

The creek crawl gets participants down in the creek where they must find four things living in that ecosystem – insects, arachnids, minnows and crawdads.

This summer, Watoga began the Nature Ranger program which is similar to the Young People for Parks program, except it is open to adults, as well as children.

“We devised this Nature Ranger program for anybody eight and up,” Boggs said. “Those who participate get a [complimentary] Jack Horner’s ice cream cone and a certificate that they get to keep. That’s kind of something else to have to get people involved.”

As she prepares for future activities, Boggs has drawn inspiration from programs all over the world.

“I saw on the Internet, the UK is actually doing a program, ‘Things you need to do before you’re eleven and three-quarters years old,’” Boggs said. “It’s things like roll down a large hill, make a daisy chain, go for a long bike ride. Its got fifty things you need to do before you turn eleven and three-quarters years. They say people who do this are more in tune with nature and more likely to continue doing outdoor activities. It’s just cute little activities, and I thought maybe I could work something like that into one of our programs.”

Whatever the activity, Boggs says it is open to county residents as well as visitors who stay at Watoga.

“It’s free to anybody – anybody who uses the park,” she said. “Local people who just come for the day are more than welcome. Please, come hang out.”

Along with the daily activities, several special programs are scheduled for the end of summer. On Friday, August 21, Jim Fregonara of the WVDNR will give a presentation on snakes with a few slithery friends in tow. On Friday, August 28, the Three Rivers Avian Center will give a Birds of Prey Program with owls, a Bald eagle and other feathered friends who call the center home.

For a list of activities, visit www.watoga.com

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