Geauga Park District Naturalist Renelle Roebuck said her new Nature Journaling program series will help park visitors slow down and better appreciate what is going on in the natural world around them while practicing proper social distancing.
“Some people are going to be more into the writing aspect, others might be more into sketching,” she elaborated. “Each month we’ll add a natural history topic to that.”
The next nature journaling program will concern aquatic invertebrates when it takes place on Aug. 17 at the West Woods in Russell Township, followed by a milkweed-focused session on Sept. 21 at Orchard Hill Park. Ms. Roebuck encouraged anyone interested to apply for either of the sessions on the Geauga Park District’s website before the nine slots available for each class are claimed.
“We reduced our numbers, so we’re at the magic number of 10, including naturalists giving the programs and volunteers that we have,” she continued, referring to state guidelines on crowd limits due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each of the sessions begins at 9:30 a.m. and costs $20, which Ms. Roebuck said is used to pay for journaling kits (paper, pencils, colored pencils) so participants do not have to share writing supplies. Ms. Roebuck held the first program this past Monday, introducing participants to basic journaling techniques and offering some pointers on how to observe one’s environment.
“It slows us down and immerses us in the natural experience, where we really have time to pay attention to what’s going on around us, and that generates questions,” she said.
In October, Ms. Roebuck said she wants to schedule another journaling session on fall plant life, then a day dedicated to winter birds in November.
Park district marketing manager Sandy Ward said, even though Ms. Roebuck’s new program was built from the ground up to account for social distancing, organizers have been working to find virtual or social distancing alternatives to previously planned events.
“With the programming, naturalists are taking it as they go,” Mrs. Ward explained. “If they were told that not even groups of 10 should be meeting, more of our programs would probably go virtual.”
She called attention to the Maple Town Tune Traders, who are having a “Virtual Jam Session” via WebEx on June 23, and another WebEx presentation on “Getting to Mars” on July 24 as prime examples of in person events that are now exclusively virtual.
Some events, she said, are still taking place in person, like the Sky Tonight Planetarium Shows at Observatory Park on July 26.
The West Woods Wednesdays Farm Market is continuing, with two more events planned for Aug. 12 and Sept. 9 from 4-7 p.m. at the park’s picnic shelter. Registration is full for the district’s two remaining Nights out in the Park summer entertainment series events, the Hiram Rapids Stumblers in concert at Claridon Woodlands on Aug. 15 and the PopTarts in concert at Big Creek Park on Aug. 29.
Mrs. Ward added that the district is also considering how to make special events like the annual Holly Days Artisan Boutique held every November at the West Woods Nature Center possible this year under Gov. Mike DeWine’s current guidelines.
This year, she said Holly Days vendors will be more spread out than usual at West Woods when it’s held across two weekends, Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, which will also give staff more time to disinfect the space.
Other planned activities, like the Nature Arts festival that would have taken place on Aug. 2 and the Meteors & Moths overnight event originally scheduled for Aug. 11, have been canceled outright.
“My big thing right now is check the website before planning to come out and do anything,” Mrs. Ward cautioned.