Summer Fun, Outdoors!

By PLC Education & Outreach Coordinator, Lynne Dardanell —

As we step into August and begin the final countdown to the end of summer (which is often unofficially over when school begins, a college semester starts, or even Labor Day weekend), we should be asking ourselves – have we spent enough time outside?

Have we experienced nature, even just one iota. Have we taken the appropriate breaks from our devices, or even our vices (and perhaps they are one and the same). Have we not only heard the crickets, the bullfrogs, and the mourning doves – but listened, actually listened – to their songs? Have we inhaled the scent of fresh-cut grass, or rain hitting pavement, or the unmistakable moldy odor of mushrooms as they sprout up after the right amount of moisture – sometimes in great numbers as if they were throwing a mushroom party.

The Forest Unseen by David Haskell was the most recent selection for Green Reads, a nature book and film club that PLC hosts with the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Library at Price Park in Guilford County. This excerpt from the book rings particularly true with me, since I have young kids … “When children chase after fireflies, they are not pursuing beetles but catching wonder. When wonder matures, it peels back experience to seek deeper layers of marvel below. This is science’s highest purpose.” 

Haskell’s methods of studying nature over time prompted a riveting discussion with a small group of very engaged individuals who had read his book, some were even reading it for the second time. He shares his observations and learnings from years of studying the ecology of the same patch of forest, employing his knowledge as a scientist while disseminating it in laymen’s terms to appeal to the masses. Participants left the discussion energized about ways to incorporate Haskell’s methods into our everyday lives. These kinds of discussions almost always come back to the question: How do we teach the younger generations, our kids and grandchildren, to appreciate nature – something our ancestors (and even many of us) inherently knew growing up? The ideas were flowing, the challenge can be putting them into action. *Note: for a listing of future Green Reads dates for books and films, visit PLC’s outing calendar.

Luckily there are many opportunities throughout our beautiful Piedmont to experience nature, whether it be scavenging for rare or native plants, observing wildlife or just enjoying solitude on a bench beneath the tree canopy. Here we share some resources for planning your
own late summer fun, and the terrific part is … ALL OF THESE are PLC-protected properties, including the four state parks where PLC has had an impact. Meanwhile, join us this fall for our 2nd Saturday outings program, starting up again in September, where we aim to fulfill an important part of our mission – connecting people with nature.

Want to get outdoors? Here’s where you can!

Knight Brown Nature Preserve / Rockingham County – over three miles of woodland trails.

Price Park / Guilford County Parks & Recreation – environmental library, trails and butterfly meadow.

Haw River State Park / Guilford County – join the HIKE NC event on Saturday, August 5 at 10am (RSVP required).

Mayo River State Park / Rockingham County – new canoe access point, and a stars & planets observation program

Hanging Rock State Park / Stokes County – terrific trails including waterfalls. Check out the museum-like Visitor’s Center.

Pilot Mountain State Park / Surry County – great hiking trails and fun environmental programs.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park / Guilford County – tons of history in the Visitor’s Center, then walk the park.

Iseley Farms / Alamance County – farm fresh produce stand open Thursday-Saturday (think pumpkins in the fall!).

Fishers Peak Blue Ridge Music Center / Surry County – enjoy music and hiking amidst the backdrop of scenic Fishers Peak. *NOTE: A special hike will be led here by PLC’s Stewardship Director Ken Bridle on Sunday, August 27th in advance of the Old Crow Medicine Show concert (the hike is from 2-4pm).

Emily H. Allen Wildflower Preserve / Forsyth County – garden workdays available, email

Historic Bethania / Forsyth County – historic town with surrounding fields and trails. Check out the Visitor’s Center.

Franklinville Greenway / Randolph County – hiking trails along the Deep River, including Faith Rock Natural Area.

Places to keep in mind for fall …

Observatory Woods / Alamance County Parks & Recreation – trail building underway, watch for a PLC fall outing here.

Mt. Shepherd Retreat Center/ Randolph County – highest point in NC east of Mt. Mitchell, watch for a PLC fall outing here.

Goat Lady Dairy / Randolph County – Open Farm Day last weekend in September.

Rising Meadows Sheep Farm / Randolph County – Open Farm Day last weekend in September.

Whitaker Farm / Randolph County – pumpkins, plants, fall landscaping and a fall festival event.

Don’t miss PLC’s first 2nd Saturday outing this fall – a Yadkin River paddle with Eco-guide, Suzi Stammetti – September 9th, 10am-1pm. For details visit PLC’s outing calendar.


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