Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Education

At Reinstein Woods, a summer of all-ages environmental programming

by IZZY GRAZIANO
Intern


Visitors to Reinstein Woods and environmental educator Mary Ronan examine a firefly that one of the participants caught during a Family Full Moon Walk. 
Photo by Izzy Graziano Visitors to Reinstein Woods and environmental educator Mary Ronan examine a firefly that one of the participants caught during a Family Full Moon Walk. Photo by Izzy Graziano The Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve environmental education center hosted a Family Full Moon Walk through the site’s trails on Monday evening.

During the program, environmental educator Mary Ronan, who has worked with Reinstein Woods for nearly a year, led participants through the woods, where they sought various nighttime creatures and attractions. The animals investigated included bats, beavers, owls and foxes.

“Our goal tonight is to head out and get a glimpse of the animals that we may not see during the day,” Ronan said.

While Monday night’s events specifically catered to families with children, Reinstein Woods hosts similar programs monthly and targets different audiences each time. Regarding the family focused, all-ages moon walk, Reinstein tries to do them throughout the year, according to Ronan, who mentioned a winter moon walk featuring snowshoes.

At the Reinstein Woods environmental education center, staff members such as Ronan lead a variety of nature themed programs. In addition to the moon walk, such events range from stories in the woods, aimed at children, to survival skills workshops, aimed at adults, as well as a “very popular” forest bathing class and eco-art classes.

“I think that the goal [of the programs] is to increase awareness of the wilderness around us, especially in the suburbs,” Ronan said.

From the visitors who participate in the Reinstein Woods education initiatives, the staff has received overwhelmingly positive feedback, according to Ronan. To participate in the guided walks and programs, families and individuals must register in advance. With approximately 20 to 30 spots available per event, the organizers typically have to establish a waiting list.

“We see a lot of familiar faces coming back,” Ronan said. “We also like seeing new faces — especially in the family oriented programs. A guided walk is a great place to start if you’re a little nervous about being on a reserve for the first time.”

For families seeking to get involved with nature, an environmental educator-led tour — such as the moon walk — serves as the perfect starting point, according to Ronan. Having gained preliminary exposure to the trails, people can then return and explore on their own.

Even after completing a nature education program, independent visitors venturing into the woods without a guide still have the option of dropping by the Reinstein Woods nature center with any questions, Ronan said.

The nature trails at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve remain open daily, from dawn until dusk. The visitor center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at 93 Honorine Drive, Depew.

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