December, January and February are interesting and busy months at the Nature Center. It may seem that the Woods would be silent, with many of the native animals sleeping under a blanket of snow and dreaming of warmer days. While the plants are resting, and the squirrels, rabbits and deer are huddled in their winter shelters, the Woods is actually alive and ringing on snowy days with the delightful sounds of children and adults. Cross country skis and snowshoes are popular methods of exploring the trail network during this time of year. As a result of our family-friendly equipment rental program, each season hundreds of people from the community are able to enjoy an outdoor recreational activity. Through the generous support from the community, we are able to offer low-cost equipment rentals, making cross country skiing and snowshoeing outdoor experiences families and friends can enjoy all winter long at Asbury Woods.
For the second year running, Asbury Woods Nature Center is also partnering with the Special Olympics of Erie to help teens train for cross country skiing and snowshoeing competitions. For eight weeks in December, January and February, students in this program get positive support from both Asbury Woods Educators and Special Olympics staff and volunteers. The students work together, offer encouragement to one another, try new things, and persevere as they strengthen their skills. Asbury Woods Educators are proud to have the opportunity to serve these students as they train for athletic competition and to share with them our enthusiasm for outdoor recreation.
Partnerships with organizations like the Special Olympics of Erie are powerful ways that we deliver on our mission to provide all members of the community with meaningful environmental, educational and recreational experiences that inspire a greater sense of environmental awareness, sustainability and stewardship. There are always opportunities for businesses and corporations interested in supporting our efforts to make sure that all children spend time outdoors while having positive experiences in nature and growing in their sense of environmental stewardship. Corporate sponsorships help us to deliver programming like this to partnering non-profits.
Students from school districts throughout the region come and try out cross country skiing and snowshoeing as well. Outdoor recreation activities at Asbury Woods are one way that teachers and school administrators are helping children to be active and healthy during the winter. For many of these students, these visits might be their first time trying out winter sports, and many of them may get hooked! Oftentimes, students return with their families and share their new-found skills with them. Our cross country ski and snowshoe clinics, offered on Saturdays in January and February, are another way for children and adults to try out these winter sports and learn the basic skills together.
While many animals native to the Woods must migrate to escape the challenges of the cold, or survive by sleeping through the coldest days, we invite everyone in our community to choose “staying active” as their winter survival strategy. The trails and grounds at Asbury Woods are open and beckoning for you to make your tracks.