New to the SOLE program this year, Orchard Avenue students and their families were eager to come out to see what all Family Nature Night had to offer. Once through the front doors, people were greeted by friendly faces at the welcome table, the smell of cheese and garlic drifting from the cafeteria, and a view of all the activities that lay beyond. Some of the 4th grade students quickly recognized and said hello to the SOLE staff they met earlier in the day during an in-class program before pulling their families onward to explore the fun that lay beyond.
Activities filled the hallways, playground, and gym. Many students were eager to visit the gym first, where archery took place. Those 8 years old and up awaited their turn to be handed a bow and walk up to the line of fire. Before receiving one on one instruction at the line, archers eye dominance was determine by a simple vision test. Shooting the proper bow for your eye dominance improves accuracy and shooting form. Many archers showed growth in both throughout the night as they released arrows at the targets.
Venturing back down the hallway, people could test their jumping skills and see which species of wildlife their leap length was closest to. Several people made multiple attempts to see if they could jump just a little bit further than the time before. The activity provided a fun opportunity to check off number 88 on the Generation Wild list of “100 Things to do Before You’re 12”. Families could take their own copy of the list home to see how many they can check off already and which ones to try out in the future!
Before exiting the building to the playground, many folks made a stop at wildlife trivia. Kids gave the wheel a whirl to see which category they would be asked a question from, and then enjoyed digging through the prize bin to find a token of their success. Grand Valley Audubon Society was another stop to make before exploring outside activities. Audubon displayed an assortment of bird species and gave visitors a chance to test their bird identification skills.
The playground hosted several activities, including backyard bass, boating safety, and scat identification. Students took turns going for a wild ride in inflatable kayaks pulled by state park rangers. While the boat rides were a blast, they were also a chance for people to learn about boat safety. Before hopping into a kayak, kids were properly fitted with a personal flotation device (PFD) and were giving instruction on how to enter the kayak without capsizing. The rangers instructed students on ways to safetly and successfully navigate different situations they could come across while boating.
At the Colorado National Monument table, scat identification was a big hit! While identifying an animal by its tracks or fur can be tricky, scat identification requires a whole new level of knowledge. Some people were near experts at figuring out what scat went with what animal, while others had much to learn, but all enjoyed matching them up.
Backyard bass provided endless entertainment throughout the evening. Young anglers learned how to cast if they were new to the sport of fishing and those with a little more experience gained some extra practice before heading to lakes and rivers this summer. Huge grins spread across the faces of successful angler as the plastic bass were wound in. Some kids could barely pull themselves away!
Mesa County Libraries was another popular stop outside. Kids enjoyed pressing different objects into Play-doh to see what kind of impression the object left. Meanwhile, parents learned about the library backpack program. Backpacks can be checked out from public libraries around the area and provide families with everything they need to have an adventure at a state park, including a pass into the parks. What a steal!
At 6 pm, activities were temporarily closed down so that everyone could come to the cafeteria for the raffle drawing. Kids dug their tickets out in hopes of winning one of the many great prizes provided. Lucky ticket holders posed with Elbert the bighorn sheep, CPW's mascot, as their community cheered for them. Elbert jumped in to help draw the winner for the grand prize, a certificate for an annual states park pass!
The fun didn’t stop there though! Some families stayed in the cafeteria to enjoy more pizza and catch up with friends while others went right back to other activities. Elbert found his way to the playground and spent the remainder of the evening playing right along with all the students. The end of the event eventually came and while it was sad to wind things down, the smiles and excitement expressed as people headed out was a sight to see.
On behalf of the SOLE program, thank you to all of our partners, volunteers, Orchard Avenue Elementary staff, area staff, and everyone who attended that made the first Family Nature Night one of great success!