This fall, Oak Heritage Conservancy is hosting a series of small socially distanced events to inspire wonder and raise funds for conservation.
From outdoor yoga to scavenger hunts, participants can slow down and connect with the natural world while supporting nature.
“I think we’re all craving some time outside away from screens,” Oak Heritage President Andy Kain said.
The group protects natural areas and connects people in southeast Indiana with nature.
Once again, the nonprofit group is offering free activities as a way for families to get outside, including an annual photo contest and its new Nature Quest challenges.
Nature Quest is a series of eight challenges that families can do on their own at any park or nature preserve. Each challenge has a theme, like monarch migration or spiderwebs.
Oak Heritage also is adding a new twist this fall as it adapts to the realities of COVID-19.
Liz Brownlee, executive director of Oak Heritage, said they normally host free wildflower hikes and similar events at their preserves and then gather for a nature-themed night out at their annual dinner.
“That dinner raises thousands of dollars for conservation, but obviously, we’re not hosting large gatherings right now,” Brownlee said. “Those events are on hold because of the pandemic, but we still want to help people spend time in nature, and we still want to raise funds for habitat conservation.”
To get around those obstacles, Oak Heritage is hosting a fall event series with in-person but socially distanced activities in nature.
The sessions are all hands-on and led by area experts and Oak Heritage members.
“We’re hoping that each event will meet both goals, fun in nature and fundraising,” Brownlee said. “My hope is that families get outside and explore nature. We all need nature, and the events are a good excuse to unwind and pay attention to the beauty of our world.”
Intro to Nature Journaling is Saturday for all ages. Nature journaling is a good way to slow down and pay attention to nature.
Join Oak Heritage member and naturalist Kirsten Carlson in Versailles, where she’ll show participants new ways to capture the beauty of nature using drawing, writing, leaf rubbing and more.
Sessions will be at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The cost is $30 per adult/child combo. RSVP is required. There is a limit of six participants per session.
On Oct. 24, there will be a fall carryout picnic at Muscatatuck County Park in North Vernon. The park has plenty of places for families to enjoy a picnic, and there will be some fun activities available while still social distancing.
The meal will be from The Red Pepper of Madison and includes a sandwich, chips, pickle and dessert. Tickets are $12 per adult and $10 per child. Reserve your picnic on the Oak Heritage Conservancy website, oakheritageconservancy.org.
“The idea for the picnic is simple. This is a chance for our community to celebrate nature but still keep a safe distance,” Kain said. “Families can swing by and pick up their meals and then spread out anywhere in the park to have their picnic.”
Funds raised will be used to fuel Oak Heritage’s work of protecting natural areas in southeast Indiana, restoring habitat and providing hands-on nature education for the community.
Registration is required for the events at the nature preserves and for the picnic at Muscatatuck County Park.
“We expect the events to sell out,” Kain said. “We hope lots of nature lovers will join us outside this fall to support conservation.”
The event series is sponsored by Bear Forestry, Ameriprise Financial Services of Greensburg, Friendship State Bank and RBSK Partners PC.
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For information and to register for events, visit oakheritageconservancy.org/events.