First Time Family Nature Night at Park Elementary Wins Smiles all Around

With the sun bright and shining and a slight breeze, Family Nature Night at Park Elementary School sure felt like summer! Students and their families began trickling in around 5 pm right as the event was open and ready for participants. A stop by the welcome table, where SOLE staff eagerly greeted each family, meant receiving a raffle ticket for kids and learning about what was in store at the event.

Just inside the school front doors, the cafeteria was filled with the smell of hot, cheesy pizza. Some families made a stop here first to fuel up for the evening of fun that awaited them. Who doesn’t enjoy some delicious, freshly cooked pizza to kick off an eventful evening!

The majority of the night’s attractions were placed outside. With gorgeous weather, why be stuck indoors?! SOLE partners had a great mix of activities to do and information about local organizations to provide . Did you have a chance to visit them all? Which one was your favorite?

Those in 4th grade who visited Canyon of the Ancients National Monument could receive a free annual National Parks Pass! If not a 4th grader, there was still plenty of fun to be had; Jennifer, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Park Ranger, had plenty of fascinating information to share and helped kids construct their own figures out of pipe cleaners. The figures could be made to look like those found at ancient ruin sites.

Firewise of Southwest Colorado brought several handouts about fire safety, many of which included the well known fire-smart mascot, Smoky the Bear! Knowing the do’s and don’ts of fire is a smart way to head into summer, especially with the dry winter we had this year.

At the Durango Nature Studies table, people had the chance to test their animal identification knowledge by matching pictures of wildlife to the proper track imprint. Durango Nature Studies provides nature-based educational programming for people of all backgrounds and ages in the Four Corners region.

Throughout the evening the wildlife trivia wheel could be heard whirling as kids spun to see what category they would be asked a question from. Some questions were easy, peasy, while others were real stumpers! Whether you knew all the correct answers or missed a couple, there was much to learn about Colorado’s wildlife.

Other SOLE provided activities included archery, fish casting, and the Generation Wild table. Archery took place in the gym and was available for those ages 8 years old and up. Participants received one on one instruction on how to properly load, aim, and shoot arrows using a compound bow. Those poor targets had no idea that Park Elementary has some of the best archers around; they didn’t know what hit them, literally!

Just outside the gym on the school playground, students had a chance to cast fishing poles and reel in bass! The bass fish were of the plastic sort, no real fish were caught of course, but that doesn’t mean catching them wasn’t a total blast! Many parents got involved in this activity too by helping their kids cast and even throwing a line or two themselves, who could resist!

The Generation Wild table provided several ideas for summer fun with the “100 Things to Do Before You’re 12” list. Number 88 was possible to do right then and there by matching animals to the tracks they make. Were you able to identify all the animals by their tracks? A take home copy of the list was available so the fun could continue beyond the event at home.

The first hour of the event flew by and soon time for the raffle drawing brought everyone to the cafeteria. Kids pulled out their tickets and carefully studied the numbers in hopes that their ticket number would be called. With the help of one of CPW’s most adorable volunteers, tickets were drawn and those that did hold a lucky number made their way to the front to pick from several cool outdoor gear prizes. The raffle ended with the family grand prize drawing, a certificate for an annual state parks pass! The winning family accepted the prize with huge smiles as everyone cheered for them.

After the raffle, activities resumed and families continued to make the rounds. Some stayed in the cafeteria to help eat up the last few slices of pizza and chat with friends, while others were right back out to the activities outside. As 7 pm approached, kids took their last few shots at archery, cast the last couple of times at fishing, and made final stops by partner tables before heading out.

The SOLE program would like to thank all of our partners, volunteers, Park Elementary staff, area staff, and everyone who attended that made the night a huge success! We hope you all have a wonderful summer and look forward to coming back next year!

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