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Farmington Hills

November 14, 2012

Nature Center to host second annual Thanksgiving for Nature program

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

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Farmington Hills Nature Center Supervisor Ashlie Smith stands in front of the Iroquois longhouse.

Although Thanksgiving is still a week away, the Farmington Hills Nature Center is giving families a fun way to express their gratitude early. While most remember to be thankful for their good health, their family or their job, Nature Center Supervisor Ashlie Smith says many forget to give thanks to nature.

“A lot of times, people will walk the trails and see different things and not really understand why they are there and why they are important,” she said.

To help educate the public, the Farmington Hills Nature Center is hosting a special Thanksgiving for Nature event Saturday, Nov. 17.

“I think it’s a really great way for families to enjoy the outdoors together in the fall, but also learn ways to be thankful for things in the natural world that I think sometimes we take for granted,” Smith said.

Kids and adults of all ages can drop by the Nature Center anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a self-guided scavenger hunt through the trails of Heritage Park, a nature craft, and Native American games, songs and storytelling.

Participants will begin the celebration by receiving a list of clues and directions that will help them on their quest to find reasons to be thankful for nature’s gifts. Those who complete the scavenger hunt will be eligible for a Thanksgiving prize.

“It’s a great way to connect with nature and be thankful that we are surrounded with such beautiful elements, and will hopefully give more of an appreciation for stewardship of our planet,” said Carol Fink, Nature Center programmer.

After the scavenger hunt, families can head down the new discovery trail and explore the center’s new Iroquois longhouse interpretation, where they will hear from special guest Genot “Winter Elk” Picor. Picor will lead Native American games, songs and storytelling from 1 to 4 p.m.

“We’re giving families an opportunity to spend quality time together in Mother Nature’s house, where people can come out and relax and be together — no cellphones, iPads — where you’re just out listening to the sounds of nature using all your senses out in the woods, giving thanks to the people that lived here before we came — to Native American heritage,” said Fink.

The longhouse, built over the summer by volunteers, is made from branches, twigs, grapevines, wetland reeds called “phragmites” and other natural materials.

“When you are inside, you can see the frame and pretty much everything they used to create the longhouse,” Smith said. “There is a woodchip floor and big tree trunks in there for bench seats.”

Participants can also work on, and take home, a special event-themed nature craft, as well as explore the Nature Center as part of the event.

The fee is $5 per person with kids ages 5 and younger free. Pre-registration is encouraged. The Nature Center is located within Heritage Park, 24915 Farmington Road, between 10 Mile and 11 Mile roads.

For more information, call Smith at (248) 477-1135 or email asimons@fhgov.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.