“Nature tables” like the one seen here will be part of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department’s new Nature in the Neighborhoods pop-up nature program.

“Nature tables” like the one seen here will be part of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department’s new Nature in the Neighborhoods pop-up nature program.

Photo provided by Desiree Stanfield, Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department

Nature fun to pop up around Oakland County this summer

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 4, 2018

OAKLAND COUNTY — A tour of a county nature center is always fun, but there’s something a little extra special about learning what’s living in the trees and grass of your own neighborhood.

The naturalists with the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department are going to give that a go — pop-up guided nature events in cities across Oakland County throughout the summer. There’s no telling when one might be coming to a town near you — and that’s half the fun, according to Lynn Conover, the recreation program supervisor for the department who oversees the Nature Education Program.

“When we say pop-up, we’re not kidding,” Conover said with a laugh. “We have a large service menu of family programs and (Scout) Badge Days and birthday parties in our communities. But sometimes our great staff isn’t occupied, and when that happens, we’d like to share those assets with the cities.”

The pilot program, aptly called Nature in the Neighborhoods, kicked off last Saturday at Harding Park in Ferndale. Other dates are expected throughout the summer, with the next one likely happening June 30. But residents won’t know where until the opportunity arrives.

“The drive behind it is social media. We see a lot of these pop-up shops and restaurants happening all over the place, and they usually get the word out on social media. So that’s what we’re doing. People can find us on our website and on Facebook to find out when and where the next event is happening,” said Brandy Boyd, chief of recreation programs and services for the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department.

The Nature in the Neighborhoods events will take place in one of two formats, according to Conover: as nature tables geared toward conversation and artifact analysis, and as guided tours.

“If a trail isn’t in good condition for hiking, but they’ve got a good pavilion at whichever park we’re at, we’ll do a kind of ‘nature center on the road’ thing where we’ll bring some neat skins and skulls or furs out for people to touch and ask questions,” she explained. “And if there’s a trail in appropriate condition, we’ll do short guided hikes so people can learn from a trained staff person what sorts of animals (and plants) are in that particular park.”

Conover added that a good way for people to get alerts for the next pop-up event is to sign up for e-newsletters on the county parks website. They’re customizable, she noted, so residents can choose the information they want to know about and scrap notifications that don’t spark their interest.

“We’re rolling this program out and trying it on for size,” she said. “This is the format we’re starting with, and we’re going to see how people like it.”

There’s no charge for the Nature in the Neighborhoods events, besides any admission fees that individual parks may charge.

To follow Oakland County Parks and Recreation on social media, visit facebook.com/ocparks and @OCParksAndRec on Twitter.

You can also find the parks system at OaklandCountyParks.com.