Journaling nature

Slippery roads didn’t stop three families from attending a nature journaling workshop at Hemlock Crossing County Park on Sunday.
Becky Vargo
Jan 6, 2014

The heavy snowfall only added to the experience, said Herzon Lopez, who made the drive from Saugatuck with his wife, three children and their grandfather.

“Beautiful,” noted 8-year-old Connor Gilmore of Zeeland as he looked out the window at the snow-laden pine trees.

Parks employee Carla Kocher had just asked the children to walk quietly to the windows at the Nature Education Center, and then describe the things that they saw.

Kocher asked participants to pay attention to detail.

“How did you feel about what you saw?” she asked.

“Happy,” said 5-year-old Adala Lopez.

“Calm,” said Gilmore.

The children, parents and grandparents took turns describing what they saw out the nature center’s large windows.

Birds, trees, squirrels, shelter and snow were all added to the list.

Berna Welling of Zeeland proudly watched as her grandson wrote down some observations.

“He’s just beginning to be an avid birder,” she said. “We come often to these programs. He’s learning a lot from coming here.”

Hezron Lopez said his family’s attendance was the beginning of an attempt to get the children interested in nature.

“I want to get them to appreciate nature and to be smart and strong enough to defend it,” he said.

The children created journal pages with words and photos to describe what they had observed on Sunday.

“this is something anybody can do, Kocher said. “There’s no right or wrong way to do it.”

Making nature journals was part of the Sunday Family Hour offered during the school year at the Nature Education Center, according to naturalist Curtis Dykstra.

Winter Tracks is the title of the Jan. 12 program, which will begin at 2 p.m.

For more information on Ottawa County Parks programs and events go online to

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