Sunday, March 23, 2014

Richard M. Nixon County Park's Nature Center Hosts "Ocean Days" Event

On Saturday, March 22nd, the Richard M. Nixon County Park's Nature Center hosted its Ocean Days event. Nixon Park actually hosts a number of events. "Every other fall there's either dinosaurs or rock and mineral weekend," said Mrs. Amber Carothers, naturalist and employee at the Nature Center. "Starting April through October, we have events every other Sunday from 2:30 to 4," she says. As for the Ocean Days event in particular, she says, "we have programs, crafts, a swimming pool with sand... It's just a way to get people outside."

Volunteer Lisa Lieberknecht and Carothers went on to tell me about the storybook walk, which was a trail where there was a post every so often and each post contained a page of the book. People walk the trail and enjoy nature in order to finish the book. It is primarily intended for children. There was also beach combing, which was basically a small swimming pool filled with sand and meant for children to sift through the sand to find different objects. There was also a table where one could look at different kinds of plankton under microscopes. There a volunteer would talk about the different types of plankton, from phytoplankton to zooplankton.

Down one hallway there was a table with crayons and pencils and a table with a sign on what to write on the "I love the ocean because" papers on the wall. The signs contained a variety of sentiments, such as "I love the ocean because it has cool sharks" and "I love the ocean because I can go fishing with my dad".

Further down the hall, there is a room with crabs and glass shrimp in tanks and taxodermy animals. There was a woman in the room - Ms. Mary McCumber - who explained some of the goings on. "We talked about life under the sea... from the top down," she said. "We talked about the Barrier Islands and how they were formed," she went on to say. A plankton discussion and plankton racing also took place. From 9:30 to 9:50 AM, there was discussion regarding the life of your average sea turtle. From 2 to 2:30, the Living Like a Jelly discussion took place.

Up the hall and around the other way there was a board with pictures of shells, starfish, and sea horses and x-ray pictures of them, which are meant to be matched up to the original photograph and stuck onto it (with the little fabric fastener pieces).

Other activities that took place include fish printing (where a rubber fish is painted and pressed onto paper), and Recycled Crafts. There was also a sample example of what you could find in the river outside in a big tub with a filter. Inside of this tub were minnows, Crane fly larvae, Caddisfly Larvae, and Water-Penny Beetles. The volunteer at the table, Maddie, explained that Crane flies look like big mosquitoes and are often mistaken for them and thus squished.

There were also scuba divers there from a local group. They explained how they do dives in the Susquehanna River at Bainbridge Scuba Center and how they have sessions where they teach you the basics of scuba diving and let you try it out in a shallow pool. "The coolest (dive) would be the night dive I did in Key Largo," says diver Eric Strock. "We saw lobsters, a nurse shark in the distance..."

This event was mainly meant for children and their parents. Most of the activities were aimed at children. This does not mean, however, that all of Nixon Park's Nature Center events are this way. They have a myriad of events throughout their year. Examples include the "Bee Keeping: Is It For You?" event that took place in January, or the Eastern Penn Mushroomers Club Meeting which will be taking place on the 29th of March starting at 10 am. Nixon Park is located in York, Pennsylvania.

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