Family Nature Night Returns to Pamona
Grand Junction’s warm spring weather brought families galore to the Pamona Elementary School Family Nature Night in early April. Families arrived with smiles and excitement as the evening began at 5 pm. Upon arrival, families first stopped at the welcome table, where they were greeted by Emily, a teacher, and a surprise visitor, Talon, the boater safety mascot! Many activities were spread throughout the school lawn and a few hid inside classrooms. Pizza was freshly delivered and waiting in the cafeteria for hungry mouths to find.
Activities from partners offered a range of entertainment for students and their families as they made their way around the event. From leaping at the Generation Wild station to grinding corn to paddling an inflatable kayak on the lawn, there was something to strike everyone’s pleasure!
Grand Valley Audubon Society displayed an assortment of bird species and gave those that stopped by a chance to test their bird identification skills. In a nearby classroom, kids could experience what a laborious task grinding flour from corn could be and explore tools used by Native Americans that lived in the area.
For those who really enjoy taking a look in to the past, there was also a display of items and tools used by fur trappers. The display included various knives, jewelry, and firearms that were popular from the time. Parents enjoyed asking the mountain men who were at the table questions while kids gazed enthralled at all the historic objects.
Out on the lawn, students took turns taking a ride in inflatable kayaks pulled by staff from Highline and James M. Robb State Parks. Participants were first properly fitted with a personal flotation device (PFD) and then given instruction on the best way to enter a boat without tipping. The wild rides were a site to see and tons of fun, but also allowed park rangers to instruct kids on boater safety and how they might successfully navigate different situations they could come across on the water.
Over at the Colorado National Monument table, a National Park Service educator tested peoples knowledge of animal scat. Some were much more successful than others at identifying animals by their scat, but all enjoyed trying to figure out which scat mold went with which animal. Tamarisk Coalition provided an educational game on great horned owls that involved throwing ping pong balls into buckets that corresponded to owls nesting needs. Great horned owls are one of many species that rely on riparian areas, which Tamarisk Coalition works to restore and protect.
Backyard bass provided endless entertainment as kids mastered their casting skills! Young anglers cast again and again to see how many plastic fish they could pull in. As often happen when actually going fishing, some even caught a tree branch or two…oops!
When the middle of the event rolled around at 6 pm, everyone congregated in the cafeteria in hopes of winning a raffle prize. The holder of lucky tickets chose from an appealing spread of outdoor gear! Those that were not so lucky didn’t mind at all as they cheered for their fellow classmates. An extra special visitor helped draw the winning family name for the grand prize, a certificate for an annual states park pass. The lucky family posed with huge smiles as Elbert the bighorn sheep congratulated them.
Once the raffle wrapped up, the fun continued as people continued making their way through the event. Some families chose to remain in the cafeteria and fuel up on more pizza before heading back to it, while some parents could hardly keep up as their kids zoomed back to their favorite activity!
Anyone who stopped by Mesa County Libraries learned that they too could have an opportunity to visit state parks through the backpack program, which allows families to check out a backpack containing everything they need for a state park adventure. The packs can be checked out from local libraries and include a park pass that will let families into any of Colorado’s 41 state parks.
Off in the gym, archery was popular all night long! Those 8 years old and over hopped in line over and over again to see how good their aim was. Archers could shoot at standard round targets or if they wanted an extra challenge could shoot at a 3D deer target. Parents stood proudly watching, cameras in hand, as their kids improved their skills and gained confidence in the sport.
As they made their way along the sidewalk from one side of the event to the other, people could jump to see which wildlife species they could leap as far as. Seeing who can jump the furthest is number 88 on the Generation Wild list of “100 Things to Do Before you’re 12”. Kids jumped and leaped again and again to see who could go the furthest and could take the fun home by grabbing their own copy of the list.
The Trivia Wheel was another activity that stayed busy all evening long. A former 4th grade teach from Pomona came to the event as a volunteer, which was a wonderful addition. Judy asked students all kinds of questions about Colorado wildlife, evening stumping a few of her former students who were trivia experts!
The evening was one of great fun! Many were ready to stay and play all night long, but eventually the event did wind down and families parted with big smiles. The SOLE program would like to thank all of our partners, volunteers, Pamona Elementary staff, area staff, and everyone who attended that made the night a huge success!
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