Falls Park to offer interpretive programming


PENDLETON — After a few months on the job at Pendleton Parks Department, administrative assistant Sheree Belt will start a weekly series of educational programs about the outdoors in Falls Park, starting May 2.
“I guess you can call it a pilot,” said Belt, who until the end of January was an interpretive naturalist at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana.
Her last programs there took place at Cave River Valley in Campbellsburg, an off-site property managed by the state park.
“I gave cave tours and hikes,” she said.
Pendleton programs are set to start at 10 a.m. Thursdays from May through August. They run from 20 minutes to an hour and a half long. Activities will take place rain or shine, except hikes when thunder/lightning or wind advisories are present.
Park Director Aaron Burris said the new offerings address a need.
“We are adding the programming because it’s something we feel has been lacking in our end in the past,” Burris said. “With Sheree coming on board we now have someone with the passion and knowledge base that we feel we can offer a worthwhile experience to the community.”
Most of the meetings involve walking around the park, discussing nature — its flora and fauna — as well as activities the park has to offer, from hiking to birdwatching to the park’s disc golf course.
Burris said the programs will provide healthy activity options for people and raise awareness of other park events and amenities.
Belt said she’s ready to get start talking more about nature.
“Interpretation is definitely part of who I am,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’m excited to add.”
Belt said the plan is to see how the programs go and make decisions on future offerings based partly on that. Considerations include adding sessions on nights and weekends, when more people would be free to attend.
“We’re very excited about the programming and looking forward to seeing people in the community come out,” she said.
She said she could see the series attracting a disproportionate number of home school groups and retired people, at least initially.
“Once school’s out in the summer, we should see an increase in all ages.”
People can check the park’s Facebook page for program details and sudden cancellations: facebook.com/PendletonFallsPark.

Falls Park Interpretive Programs

All programs start at 10 a.m.

* Identifies programs that take place at the start location. No hiking.

May 2

Wildflower Hike & Seed Share (1.5 hours) — Belt will lead a moderate hike on the Red Loop to look for spring ephemeral. She will discuss names and stories of native wildflowers. Before the hike, group will spend 15 minutes going through participants’ native wildflower seeds if people want to swap or share. People should make sure they are labeled with harvest date and species name. Meet inside the Community Building.

May 9

Fungus Among Us (1 hour) — Fungi is an important part of the local ecosystem! Some are even edible. Participants will hike on the Red Loop to search out some mushrooms. Meet at the YMCA parking lot.

May 16

Great Blue Heron Talk at the Falls (20 minutes) – Participants will meet Belt by the Lighthouse Pond near the memorial to learn more about this bird.

May 23

*Frog Calls! (30 minutes) — An interactive program on the sounds of native frogs and toads at the Community Building. Geared toward pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, but all ages will are welcome.

May 30

Wild Edibles (1 hour) — Discover wild edibles on this hike through parts of the Red Loop. Group will discuss ethics and safety of wild edible hunting. People will not be eating anything on this hike. Meet at the Park Office parking lot.

June 6

Wildflower Hike (1.5 hours) — A one-hour hike to discover what native wildflowers are blooming on the Yellow Loop. Meet at parking lot near the Community Building.

June 13

Beginning Birding Hike (1 hour) — A one-hour leisure beginners birding hike. People should bring binoculars if they have them. Meet at the Community Building.

June 20

Beginner’s Tree ID Hike (30minutes) — A walk through the woods to learn about some of the most common native tree species and how to ID them. Meet at the Sports Complex parking lot.

June 27

*Marvelous Metamorphous! (30 minutes) — Learn the life cycle of butterflies with an interactive program. Make a butterfly to take home. Meet at the Large Shelter near the playground.

July 4

No morning programming as the park prepares for night event.

4:30 to 10 p.m.: 4th at the Falls! Event includes family friendly activities, live music, food vendors, and a firework show at the end.

July 11

Invasive Plant Hike (1 hour) — What does invasive mean and why should people care? Participants will hike the Red Loop and have the chance to learn how to identify some of the most common invasive species. Discussion will include ways to help keep the ecosystem healthy. Meet at the parking lot near the Community Building.

July 18

All Things Nature Hike (1 hour) — Group will make stops along the Red Loop to discuss different plants and animals native to the area. People should bring their nature-related questions to discuss. Meet at the Falls (Near the Historical Museum).

July 25

*Batty for Bats! (30 minutes) — Discussion will include why bats are important to have around and some of the myths associated with them. Participants will make a bat craft to take home. Meet at the Community Building.

Aug. 1

National Wellness Month Hike (1 hour) — A hike to promote wellness. Group will hike the Green Loop while learning about Falls Park and its amenities. Meet at the Community Building parking lot. Most of this hike is accessible with paved walkways.

Aug. 8

Wildflower Hike (1.5 hours) — Group will hike parts of Red, Yellow and Blue Loop to see what’s blooming. Discussion will include how to seed harvest in the fall to keep growing native plants in the yard. Meet outside the Community Building.

Aug. 15

Disc Golf for Beginners (1 hour) — Falls Park has an 18-basket disc golf course. People are invited to come out and learn the basics. Group will hike the course, and people will have the chance to throw the disc and try their luck at getting it in a basket. Meet at the YMCA parking lot.

Aug. 22

Nature Journaling and Hike (1 hour) — Spend time creating a nature journal. Group will hike on parts of the Red Loop to see what to add in a journal. Geared toward pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade, but all ages are welcome. Meet in the Community Building.

Aug. 29

*Nutty about Squirrels! (30 minutes) — Indiana is native to four species of squirrels. People can learn about the different species and some tips to enjoying them and keeping them out of bird feeders. Meet in the Community Building.

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