• Marcetta Linton

A Nature Classroom

    Close your eyes and imagine going to school outside? Listening to the bird's chirp in your ears, feeling the cold dew on your skin, smelling the smell of Mother Earth. It is a picture-perfect picture in the mind's eye, right. At Severson Dells Nature Center in Illinois is doing just that showing the world a learning platform through the outdoors. However, learning stalled in March of 2020 due to an invisible enemy called COVID 19.  

Severson Dells Nature Centers nurtures people's connection to the natural world and fosters science literacy through a wide variety of nature programming. They introduce children's scores to the natural world's awe and wonder through school field trips, scout programs, home school programs, summer camps, and other educational programs, such as a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club. People of all ages benefit from educational programming through various guided nature hikes, canoe trips, expert lectures, reading groups, and more. In addition to educating the public through informative programs, they also have events that inspire and connect, such as art shows, annual site-specific dance, in-depth ecology workshops, and mindfulness programs. 

COVID 19 seen an exciting trend when everything closed up. People decided to hit the trails and start hiking and enjoying nature. A relationship to the rest of nature was forged for many people during these trying times, one that we hope endures well into the future. Severson Dells was a partner with 815 Outside in a special effort to get people outside in the green spaces of Winnebago County called Explore 20 in 2020. The response was very positive. Many people joined in the effort and reported back how wonderful it was to explore places in the area of which they were previously unfamiliar. 

Due to Covid-19, The programs have been adapted for the safety and well-being of the community. The field trips have gone virtual, the guided hikes and other programs have limited registration to keep the groups small. However, Severson Dells is still offering many interesting and exciting programs that help foster our understanding of natural history. For guided hikes, Severson has a Geology Hike, a Golden Hour Tranquility Walk, and an Owl Prowl. They offer our very popular Spook the Dells program again this year that involves an evening theatrical walk through the woods to learn about nocturnal animals. In November, they are offering workshops to make your hiking stick or wooden toys. Luminaria is a favorite winter tradition (for over 30-years!) that will be adapted for Covid-19, but still offering families a fun and magical walk through the luminary-lit woods. 

There are many ways that people can work to protect the environment. One of the most important things that people can do is be informed, get out, vote for candidates with good environmental track records, and vote for climate change action and environmental protections. We can all take steps in our individual lives to consider the environment with our daily activities, including what we eat, how we move around, and how much we consume. Check out their blog that has many ideas for meaningful green living ideas. 


So do you want to help? Severson Dells runs on donations and volunteers and members. To support nature education, please visit their website. https://www.seversondells.com/donate

Shelter, in the sense of Place reading group that began at the onset of the pandemic, can be joined by anyone, regardless of their geographic location. https://www.seversondells.com/reading-group

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