Putting on your rain boots, tromping through tall grasses, searching and exploring the squishy world of wetlands will inspire both your kids and your sense of wonder. Wetlands play a role in your everyday life cleaning and collecting water, but sometimes we forget to seek them out as nature’s playground. After a recent hike at the coast with a group of 9 and 10 year olds, I was reminded of the simple yet amazing wonders of wetlands. The satisfaction of squishy mud, the excitement of finding hidden frogs and the adventure of jumping from one high and dry spot to another.
This adventure prompted me to ask my fellow adventurers what they loved most about our wetland adventure. There were no surprises only reminders of how easy it is to capture the curiosity of kids when you involve mud, animals, and places to hide and explore.
5 reasons that wetlands rock straight from the true experts, KIDS:
#1. I can see animals
Big and small, easy to see and hard to find, from frogs and salamanders to deer and great blue heron, wetlands never disappoint. Collecting bugs, catching frogs, spotting turtles, finding camouflaged birds or discovering a beaver dam happen every time!
#2. Being an explorer
In the words of one 9 year old “I love exploring wetlands because you can see new wildlife, interesting plants and hidden pieces of land that you might have missed if you hadn’t actually gone looking”. Wetlands can be thick with native plants, grasses and shrubs. Following streams, pushing past bushes and trees, treasures can be found in the form of beaver chews (trees eaten by beaver), birds nests or frog eggs nestled in the edge of a pond.
#3. I get to tromp around in boots
Wearing the right gear for this adventure, means getting to wear rubber boots! Rubber boots are an excuse to get muddy, to find places that are normally are out of reach. Boots boost confidence to jump over streams, to search for critters that are in shallow waters, they give permission to take risks and really explore! Best of all you still get muddy.
#4. Open All Year All the Time
There is never a bad season to be in a wetland. You don’t have to worry that there will be nothing to see. In the winter you can stomp around in the mud, in the spring there are flowers and frog eggs to inspect, in the summer some beaver dams become more exposed and in the fall you see water birds heading south for the winter.
#5. You don’t have to Travel Far
For this nature adventure you don’t have to go far, some urban wetlands are only a few miles from your house. Portland is home to some great wetlands with easy access. Take a look at the websites of The Wetlands Conservancy, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Clean Water Services and Metro for ideas and wetlands to visit.
Join The Wetlands Conservancy for a National Wetlands Month wetland bike tour! The Wetlands Conservancy in partnership with Pedal Bike Tours will be hosting a family bike ride through one of the largest urban wetlands in the country, Smith and Bybee on May 22nd 2016. We will be stopping for wildlife viewing and picnic on this fun and easy ride. For more info
Special Thanks to Lucy Loeb for her contribution to this article.