MDC offers interactive storybook nature hike through April 27 in Kirksville

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KIRKSVILLE, MO. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites families to discover nature and the joy of reading on a new storybook trail at the MDC Northeast Regional Office, 3500 S. Baltimore St. in Kirksville. The storybook trail brings to life Fran Hodgkins’ If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby, with illustrations by Laura J. Bryant.

If You Were My Baby takes readers on a journey through the animal kingdom, and celebrates the relationships between animal parents and offspring, including humans. This children’s book unfolds as readers walk from page-to-page, poster-sized illustrations appearing around each turn in the trail. Many of the characters in the book can be found living in the wild, just beyond the poster-pages along the path.

“I’d like to invite families to walk our trail and read the beautifully illustrated story of wildlife animals experiencing the world around them,” said MDC Conservation Education Consultant Karen Armstrong. “Learn the ways wildlife parents teach their young to grow and survive in their habitat.”

Each spring in Missouri, wildlife become active again after a long winter, and many mammals begin giving birth to offspring. As humans also awaken from winter shelters indoors, and return to the woods, prairies, and streams of our state, we’re likely to encounter young wildlife – sometimes unattended by their parents. Wildlife almost never abandon their offspring. Chances are, the parents are out foraging and will soon return. It’s important to remember this time of year, that the best way to help wildlife, even if they seem helpless, is to leave them alone, and keep wildlife wild.

Storybook trails offer an opportunity to have these conversations with children, while bringing literature to life, and combining two critically important activities for child development: reading, and spending time in nature.

If You Were My Baby is installed and available along the trail at the MDC Northeast Regional Office through Friday, April 27. No registration or other materials are required to enjoy this family friendly learning experience in nature. Readers and hikers can take pictures of their storybook walk and post to social media with #MoConservation and #KeepWildlifeWild to share experiences with other readers.

For more information, call the MDC Northeast Regional Office at (660) 785-2420.