With scheduled programs and unscheduled opportunities, Hickory Knolls gives families the flexibility to explore nature on their own time, in their own way.
During Spring Break, March 29-April 2, register for a Critter Visit inside the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. This 30-minute hands-on program will provide time with the turtles, snakes, insects and other critters, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour. Register in advance.
The discovery center also offers Feed the Critters on select dates in March, April and May. Check registration for available dates, as this popular program fills up quickly.
For an opportunity to explore the critters living in the Hickory Knolls Natural Area, sign-up to become a citizen scientist to collect data on salamanders on select days through April 10.
Participants will meet at the discovery center, hike to the salamander traps, collect data and then release the amphibians back into the natural area.
“Amphibians are an important indicator of the quality of an ecosystem, because they are sensitive to the conditions around them,” said Laura McCoy, Nature Programs Supervisor.
“This hands-on program helps participants connect with nature while making a difference in their community,” McCoy added.
Families who want to explore in their own backyard can register for a science activity kit to pick-up at the discovery center, available beginning April 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Three kits are available including Dino Diggers, Excellent Owls and Animal Champions. Each kit comes with a craft, science experiment, scavenger hunt and more.
Another citizen scientist project that can take place at Hickory Knolls and throughout the St. Charles Park District is the City Nature Challenge. This worldwide, week-long competition to observe the wildlife and plants in a particular city or boundary takes place from April 30-May 3.
While using the free iNaturalist app, residents can snap photos to help identify wildlife, plants, animals and other species in nature, then upload the photos to the project: City Nature Challenge 2021: St. Charles, IL. The photos help naturalists monitor the phenology of plants and wildlife in the area.
Another impromptu activity includes exploring Hickory Knolls Discovery Center and Natural Area during regular hours. The Discovery Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. While inside, say hello to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects including the resident box turtles, milk snake, bearded dragon and the latest member of the discovery center family: Mopsy the rabbit.
Outside, parents can witness their child’s imagination take over in The Hideout, a natural play area made with tree stumps and trunks and boulders. Or embark on a unique adventure hiking the Andrini Trail, following the walk-and-read children’s story featuring Harley the hawk and Greta the grasshopper. Or take a break in the picnic pavilion taking in the sights and sounds of nature.
All programs are subject to COVID-19 restrictions. To register, visit www.stcparks.org/register or call Hickory Knolls at 630-513-4393.