Annapolis Valley Young Naturalists promote hands-on look at nature The Register/Advitiser. by John DeCoste. January 20 2016

The Jan. 17 walk took place despite a 20- to 25-centimetre snowfall the previous day. As a result, according to organizer Jen Kershaw, the attendance was down a bit.

“We have had up to 50 for some of our monthly field trips,” Kershaw said. “Generally, we go out in all kinds of weather. For our walk the end of November, there was no snow and it was raining.”

There is, however, always something to see and something to learn about.

“Even in the winter, there are lots of things you can do if you’re dressed for it.”

Because they are organized by volunteers, the monthly events “are free for everyone,” Kershaw said. “The aim is to get kids outside, having fun and learning things. Because we’re local, we can always do something, regardless of the weather.”

For the Jan.17 walk, she said, “we’ll be exploring different ecosystems, some forested areas.” With a blanket of freshly fallen snow covering the ground, they could also explore snowflakes and how they are formed.

“We’ll look for signs of wildlife, and see what animals are doing in the winter. We’ll also be talking about plants, trees and lichens. All plant species are able to adapt to winter conditions.”

The Annapolis Valley chapter often has guest speakers. Next month,” Kershaw said, Acadia biology professor Soren Bondrup-Neilsen will be leading the group on a snowshoe hike.

There is another active Young Naturalists chapter based in Berwick, but they are the only two chapters in the Valley.

“It’s kind of unique, in that the same organization exists all across the country, but often goes by different names. Some of the chapters charge a registration fee for the year, but we don’t.” She added, “I think it’s wonderful here in Nova Scotia that we’ve managed to keep it free for everyone.”

Kershaw, her husband, Eric, and son, Bryn, were all part of the January walk.

“The more you learn about the environment around you, the more you’re going to enjoy being outside,” she said.