• Shalana Gray

A Wondrous Family Nature Night at Walden Elementary


As the sunlight glistened brightly on snow-capped mountains in the distance, families filed into Walden’s third annual Family Nature Night. Before them lay an array of activities with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff and our wonderful partners: Yampatika and Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.

Upon entering the school, families were greeted by an unlikely life form: fish eggs! A staff member from the Bellvue-Watson Fish Hatchery shared his wealth of knowledge about Colorado’s aquatic life. Underneath the microscopes, small Rainbow Trout eggs awed the young and old alike. Those that squinted close enough could even view the tiny fish eyes!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also had a semi-aquatic theme: Amphibians! Kids were delighted to color and assemble their very own amphibian trivia wheels.

Nearby, a ranger from State Forest State Park headed the Wildlife Trivia Wheel. With each spin of the wheel, he asked a question from various categories. True or False? A pronghorn’s eye is as big as an elephant’s.

It’s true!

After learning about wildlife, kids tested their own abilities compared to wildlife. At the Generation Wild table, families perused the 100 Things to Do Before You’re 12 list. To check off No. 70, See who can jump the farthest, students leapt through the air and compared their jumps to animals’. Did you know a Western Jumping Mouse can jump five feet?

Down the hall, guests went on a “hike” with Yampatika. Pictures on the floor depicted a multitude of sights you may see out in the wilderness… but not good ones! Families learned about Leave No Trace ethics and why they are important for people, wildlife, and the environment.

Can you tell what’s wrong in these pictures?

a. Our wildlife is beautiful, but these people are much to close! This is stressful for the animal and dangerous to people.

b. Do cairns (rock piles) fall under good Leave No Trace ethics? Nope! Leave the rocks where they lay. We want to maintain a healthy ecosystem for micro-organisms and allow other’s to enjoy a natural looking landscape.

c. We all love a babbling stream, but camp sites should be at least 200 meters from water sources in order to limit waste, erosion, and wildlife disturbance.

Families continued their “hike” down the hall to visit Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Squinting through binoculars, kids showcased their impressive knowledge of Colorado’s native birds.

Outside under the sun, Backyard Bass was a hit! Kids cast their line out over and over, catching plastic “fish” that were strewn throughout the lawn. Staff from State Forest State Park happily helped them be the best fisher-kids they could be.

In the gym, students tried their hand at archery. Guided by CPW staff, many even succeeded at getting a bulls-eye!

When 6:00pm rolled around, everyone gathered for our the raffle. Kids shouted with joy every time they heard their number called, then ran up to retrieve their prize. In the end, one lucky family went home with the Grand Prize: An annual State Parks pass.

All the excitement worked up some appetites! Fortunately there was hot chili and cinnamon rolls, courtesy of the school.

Thank you to all who made Family Nature Night a spectacular event! SOLE appreciates the support from families, school staff, teachers, partners, and statewide CPW staff.

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