By keeping a small journal of your outdoor discoveries you will soon have your own personal field guide to neighborhood tracks. Measure track sizes and sketch their shapes. Make notes as to whether claw marks were present, how many sets of the same tracks you found, and more. Parents may wish to keep a few blank notebook pages to trace the outlines of their children’s feet from year to year to look back on as well.
Safe Winter Outings
Missouri’s trees, birds, wildflowers, and mammals all present opportunities for family enjoyment. As with all outdoor activities, be sure to think of safety first and to dress appropriately for the season.
A winter walk with young children should not be long. A short little scavenger hunt in your own backyard is a great way to discover a lot about Missouri’s wildlife and plants. It is best to dress in layers during winter. If it is a cold day, the layers will help you stay warm. If the weather warms up, you can just take off a layer or two to feel more comfortable.
Be very careful of hypothermia, especially if your clothing becomes wet. Having extra dry clothing with you on a longer trip can make a big difference to your well-being. Make sure to take along snacks, water, and a first aid kit. Also, be sure to let others know of your plans. Winter weather can change rapidly. Knowing where you plan to explore and when you plan to return home are important to your safety.
Conservation Opportunities for Winter Months
For those interested in more exploration activities during winter, the Department of Conservation provides many programs. Conservation nature centers give interpretive walks, wildlife watching opportunities, and special programs on topics geared to families with children. Evening owl prowls, animal track identification, winter bird feeding, and Eagle Days activities are just a few of the winter events geared for family enjoyment. Contact your local Conservation office or nature center for programs in your area. You may also search upcoming programs around the state by logging on to mdc.mo.gov. Just click on the events tab for up-to-date program information. Also keep an eye on the new upcoming events feature on Page 33 for ideas.
Plan wisely, adventure safely, and check out the sights and sounds of winter. It just might become your family’s favorite time of year for outdoor discovery.