Children and their families gathered at the Parklands of Floyds Fork on Saturday to learn about nature with the Junior Explorers program. It was the program’s first in-person event in over a year following a hiatus due to COVID-19.

Curtis Carman, the Director of Education and Programming at the Parklands, said the theme was creepy crawlies. “Everything is Halloween, bug, bat-themed, so kids are learning about what types of insects we have at the park, what types of bats are here, owls,” Carman said.

Activities included a costume dance party, a hiking trail lined with spooky facts and a makeshift bat cave where attendees made shadow puppets and mystery touch boxes.

Throughout the event, Ranger Russell, a box turtle, was presented for live demonstrations.

Encounters with Ranger Russell appeared to be a highlight of the event with children eagerly waiting for a chance to pet him. They even took away some knowledge from the presentation.

“If the turtle’s eye is red, that means it’s a boy, but if it’s green or yellow or brown, that means it’s a girl,” explained 5-year old Ella Martinez, following her encounter with Ranger Russell.

Carman said the Junior Explorers program is designed to educate kids and cultivate a love of the nature around them.

“Our big mission education-wise is to have students interact with their local landscape,” Carman said. “A lot of kids learn a lot about the Arctic or the rainforest, which are great places, but not the places that we live.” 

The Junior Explorers program is expected to return to its regular quarterly events starting next year.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.