Family Fun | Family nature programs provide educational fun

By Karen WalkerFebruary 7, 2014 

Despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction that we are in for six more weeks of winter weather, there’s no reason to hibernate inside the house.

February is a great time to take the kids on a day trip to nearby Huntingdon County for one of several fun and educational nature programs.

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Petersburg has always been one of my favorite local places to take our kids. The Discovery Room inside the nature center is a cozy, feel-good space filled with lots of interactive exhibits and live animals, including frogs, turtles and snakes. Outdoors, the Raptor Center gives visitors a chance to get an up-close view of birds of prey — such as owls, bald eagles and hawks — that are unable to survive in the wild.

Shaver’s Creek reopens Feb. 12. Through March 12, toddlers and preschoolers and their caregivers can attend a special program every Wednesday morning. The Kids Corner program features nature-themed activities like crafts, stories and games.

Participants should dress for the weather, because activities will take place both indoors and outdoors.

Sponsored by Growing Tree Toys, of State College, and members of Shaver’s Creek, the program is free and open to the public. If you can’t make it to the Wednesday morning programs, you can stop by at your leisure whenever the Environmental Center is open (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) to enjoy a self-guided “tour” of the week’s Kids Corner activity.

For an out-of-the-ordinary adventure, visit Shaver’s Creek on Valentine’s Day evening for a Sweetheart Owl Prowl. This is a guided walk from 6 to 8 p.m.; hikers will learn to call for owls and will visit the Shaver’s Creek “Sweetheart Owl.” It’s free for members, and a recommended donation of $5 per person for nonmembers.

Shaver’s Creek is about 15 minutes from State College, on the edge of Huntingdon County. Follow Route 26 to Pine Grove Mills and up over the mountain.

Find out more at www.shaverscreek. org.

Also nearby in Huntingdon County, Lincoln Caverns is a fun place to learn about nature and wildlife with your kids. Always a consistent 52 degrees, the caverns are a good place to escape the extreme temperatures of the winter and the summer. And coming up on Feb. 15, Lincoln Caverns will host its eighth annual Batfest.

Batfest is a popular event focusing on the often misunderstood, but fascinating, flying mammal. Kids and families will enjoy bat-themed crafts and games, guided tours of the caverns, a pizza lunch, and a visit from wildlife rehabilitator Robyn Grabowski and her big brown bat.

Tickets are $19 for adults and $15 for kids, and can be purchased online at www. lincolncaverns.com.

Karen Walker is a managing partner of www.4Kids inPA.com and lives in State College with her husband and two sons. She can be reached at Karen@ 4KidsinPA.com.

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