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Our First Family Nature Hike with Oak Park Neighborhood for Learning was tons of fun!

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky at 8:00am Saturday morning when several families from the Conejo Valley area gathered at Oak Canyon Community Park to join us for a nature hike.  Organized by Oak Park Neighborhood for Learning, these nature hikes are a new program intended to provide opportunities for families with young children to stay active and learn together.  About a dozen families showed up for the first hike, full of energy and eager to search for the various critters that inhabit our local native ecosystems.

Oak Canyon Community Park provided the perfect setting for a family nature hike, with its accessibility as well as intact native ecosystems.  Though the park has many paved pathways, Chaparral habitat borders and meanders through the park, and hikers can see native plant species such as Coast Live Oak, Valley Oak, California Sage, Manzanita, and Elderberry.  Acorn woodpeckers, with their almost comical, clown-like faces, could be spotted amongst the oak trees.  A few Red-tailed Hawks soared in circles above the park.

Families look at ducks and other waterfowl in the duck pond

The duck pond attracts a variety of waterfowl, some only visiting for winter.  As we walked along the pathway bordering the pond, we spotted plenty of Mallards, tiny little Ring-necked Ducks, American Coots, a Great Egret, and even a Green Heron.

Alex, the director of Havasi Wilderness Foundation, led the hike, and provided plenty of engaging and educational interpretation.   He showed families how to use an acorn cap

Hikers look for critters in the reeds

as a whistle, which had parents and children alike trying their hand determinedly for many minutes.  He showed families which native plants of the Chaparral are edible, and pointed out how Califonia Sage, or “Cowboy Cologne” was used by ranchers in the past to cover up the smell of cows and horses from their clothes.

Hikers learn which native plants are edible

Hikers learn which native plants are edible

We eagerly await our next nature hike in April.  Stay tuned for the date and time!

These family nature hikes are organized and produced by First 5 Ventura's Oak Park Neighborhood for Learning, and led by Havasi Wilderness Foundation. The first hike took place on Saturday, March 9th at 8:00am at Oak Canyon Community Park.

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