Monday, August 20, 2012

Turtles, Snakes, and Eagles, Oh My!

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." - Aristotle

Ever wanted to see just how big some of our local snakes are? Or see our national bird in its natural environment? Or learn about Native Americans who once lived in our area? There is so much to learn within the walls of the Monmouth County Park System's two environmental centers.

Huber Woods Environmental Center

Huber Woods Environmental Center

25 Brown's Dock Road, Locust
(732) 872-2670
Hours: Weekdays from 10am-4pm; Weekends from 10am-5pm

Once the estate of Hans and Catherine Huber, the Huber Woods Environmental Center overlooks the beautiful hills and meadows of Huber Woods Park. It is a place for visitors to come and explore the wonders of nature through hands-on displays featuring plants and animals, programs offered throughout the year, and educational activities offered for schools and community groups.

The most unique display at the Huber Woods Environmental Center teaches visitors about the Native Americans that once lived in our area. Learn more about Native Americans through trying instruments, viewing recordings of dancing and singing, trying your hands at basket weaving, playing games, and discovering archaeology that has brought their past into our present.

Huber Woods Environmental Center Hands-On Exhibits
Nature takes center stage with kids as they learn more about the environment at the Junior Naturalist Station. And the most popular exhibit at the Huber Woods Environmental Center? The reptile house where live turtles and snakes await our visitors to give them an up close and personal chance to experience these wonderful creatures.

Plus, don't miss out on a great opportunity to discover nature as a family. Borrow one of our Safari Backpacks for a day of discovery. Each backpack contains all you need to make your self-guided nature walk filled with adventure and exploration. Visitors can pick one of the following packs: Pre-K, Forest, Meadow, or Pond. Use of the backpacks are free, but a valid NJ drivers license must be left with the docent before heading out for adventure.

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center

331 Georgia Tavern Road, Howell
(732) 751-9453
Hours: 10am-4:30pm (open on Fridays until 8:30pm from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend)

One of our most popular locations, the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center is dedicated to teaching visitors about wetlands ecology and wildlife and habitat protection. Through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, educational activities for schools and community groups, and wildlife observation areas, visitors gain an understanding of the importance of water in our world.

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center Exhibit
Each exhibit in the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center shows the connect of water into our lives. One exhibit features fish found in the Reservoir right outside. Another traces the journey of a raindrop as it travels through the watershed to the Manasquan River and, eventually, to the ocean. Some exhibits reveal what is not readily visible, such as nocturnal animals that call the Reservoir home. And another compares the effects of a town with unmanaged growth to one that has chosen to protect the environment.

This location is also well-known for the chance to take a glimpse at the Reservoir's resident Bald Eagles. From a television set up in the hallway, visitors can view exactly what's happening in the nest right at that moment. You may even get a glimpse of newly hatched babies depending on the time of year (normally sometime toward the end of April or early May).

There's always something happening at the Manasquan Reservoir! Be sure to check out the many programs held at this location as well as frequent weekend drop-in programs that are great for families!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fall Directory...Coming Soon to a Park Near You!

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Piccasso

The Monmouth County Park System offers more than 2,000 different programs each year and caters to a wide variety of interests. From arts & crafts to cooking, horticulture to nature, outdoor adventures to equestrian and more, there's always something for everyone! These programs can not only help our visitors refine skills they already have, but also help them discover a hobby that's all new to them that they'd never thought to try before.

This year's Fall Directory is jam packed with over 500 programs offered from September through December. It will be available in most of our county parks and on the website beginning this Friday, August 10. When you browse through, think of everything you see as a possible new experience. Consider learning something new...

Back to School Menu Ideas
When school begins many of our lives become hectic once again! This hands-on class features recipes that are easy to create and will please the whole family. 

Family Geocaching
Enjoy the parks in a whole new way as a family. Together you will use GPS devices that will direct you to hidden treasures around the parks. 

Fun with Horses
If your child (ages 2-9) has shown an interest in horses, don't miss out on this popular favorite! Children will explore the world of horses and horseback riding at Sunnyside Equestrian Center in Lincroft. 

Golf Instruction for Beginners
This is your perfect chance to learn the sport of golf. With classes directed toward children, parents with their children, juniors, adults, women, and couples, the whole family can get in on the game! The Park System even has clubs available if needed.

Naval Air Station Lakehurst Tour
Learn more about an important chapter in American history as we explore the Naval Air Station and the new Navy Lakehurst Information Center. Known as the site of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, experience the rich airship history as we mark the 75th anniversary year of that fateful event. 

Precious Metal Clay Basics
Precious Metal Clay (PMC) is fine silver particles suspended in a clay bind; it is so easy to work with to create beautiful jewelry! Our instructor will teach the basics of this up and coming art.  

See the Forest for the Trees
Join a Park System Naturalist on a nature walk that will have you taking a closer look at your surroundings. Magnifying glasses, field guides, and journals will be your tools of discovery. 

Super Science
Parent and child (ages 4-6) work together to explore various science topics such as plants, magnets, buoyancy, and chemical reactions.  

Vegetable Gardening 101 - Fall
As the summer comes to a close, it's time to start working towards next year's vegetable gardening, and there's still plenty you can do with your existing one. This class covers fall planting, extending the growing season, and preparing a new or existing garden for next growing season. 

Young Chefs
Kids (ages 6-9) who enjoy helping out in the kitchen will love this new class! This four-week program will have children making a simple 3-course meal each week while learning about kitchen safety and healthy eating habits.

This is just a small sampling of the amazing programs the Park System has to offer this fall. There's always something to enjoy for everyone. So be sure to pick up your copy this weekend. Don't miss out, registration begins Wednesday, August 15 at 8am.