The trails at The Nature Institute are open today and DSCN1987there are so many things to see. The trees, birds and frogs all know that spring is here and they are putting on a show. There are frog and salamander eggs in some of the ponds, red buds, sassafrass and dogwoods are full of blooms. The birds have been singing for weeks! We have spotted a pair of bluebirds building a nest, and we have a pair of hawks that are preparing for their own nestlings to arrive. The barred owls are searching for mates and laying eggs as well. Spring is a time of activity for all plants and animals.

This spring, we would like you to participate with us in a photo phenology campaign. Phenology is the study of seasonal phenomena. Phenologists watch to see when the migrating birds arrive and leave, when the flowers bloom, when the trees leaf out and when the insects hatch, in addition to many other things. We invite you to gather photographic evidence of our land through the seasons.

Photo Scavenger HuntAs you hit the trails this spring and take photos, be sure to tag them with #NatureInstitute in Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The really great pictures might be used on our website and Facebook page (with your permission of course) and everyone will be able to enjoy them.

Taking part in this campaign can be a family activity as well. Kids love taking pictures and it is a great way to get them to stop and really look at details. Children are great at finding awesome things and as you know they want to take everything they find home. Letting your children take photos of the flowers, rocks and animals they see will accomplish both goals. The kids get a memento to take home and you are encouraging them to look at the details in nature.

We would also like to encourage you to take pictures at any of our events. Riverbend Earth Day Festival, Songs of Frog and Toads, and the wildflower hike are just a few things we have coming up that you could help us by getting pictures. By taking pictures, sharing them with your friends and tagging The Nature Institute (#NatureInstitute), you are reaching a new audience that may have never heard of us. You are sharing our mission and purpose with a much larger population than we could ever reach on our own.10301180_850814904947701_440141604054251344_n

So enjoy the beautiful spring weather, yes even rain is beautiful, and get your camera dusted off. Take those pictures of the beauty and share them with us and your friends. Please stay safe and stay on the trails. We look forward to seeing nature through your lens.

If you are more interested in phenology and want to become a citizen scientist check out Nature’s Notebook,, they will use your data for national studies.

Ramona Puskar, education assistant

For a bigger version of the Spring Scavenger Hunt game, click HERE.