Earth Day at Creekside brings families together for a day of appreciating nature

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[April 28, 2016]   LINCOLN - Saturday was the perfect day to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, and many families took advantage of this to visit the Lincoln College Creekside Environmental Center, north of Lincoln.

The Center was hosting a special Earth Day celebration that included activities for children and adults, a petting zoo, food, and live music provided by the Lincoln College String Ensemble.

As guests arrived, the first thing to catch their eye might have been a tent set up outside the Creekside Insectarium. Kim Wiggers de Otte was set up with copies of the Rotary Insectarium Coloring Book, crayons, and colored pencils. Children and adults alike were invited to take up a crayon and color pictures in the books. The children could also take their book home when them to enjoy later.

On the other side of her tent, an LC student was helping children create Gorilla Seed Balls. This was a fun and interesting activity again where parents could also participate. The seed balls are made of a rich potting mix, potters clay, and a selection of wildflower seeds. Children could combine the ingredients and roll it into balls. They were then encouraged to drop the balls onto a tilled garden plot where they will eventually grow into a beautiful patch.

Wiggers de Otte is a huge fan of Creekside and talked enthusiastically about what goes on at the center and also about the future. She noted that the wooden walkways that are present in the native grass areas were the product of the Lincoln Rotary. She said the Rotary has committed to building more boardwalks in the future and has a goal of eventually having the boardwalk all the way out to the wooded area of the Center.

She’s also excited about the future of the center and the plans to bring history alive through homestead replicas, and Native American Villages. Wiggers de Otto explained that on the path from the park like setting of the center back to the wooded area and Sugar Creek, there will be replica settlements erected. She said closest to the park area there will be a cabin built that will represent the settlers who came to the area many years ago. From the cabin to the creek will be a walk backward through time as guests will be able to see Tee-pee villages common to the most recent American Indian settlements. Further down the path, guests will see examples of the Indian villages that were occupied by earlier tribes, and eventually, as visitors work their way toward the creek, they will experience the lifestyle and habitat of prehistoric man in this region.

Spring is an exciting time of year at Creekside, as plants come out of their winter rest and begin their growing cycle. This past weekend, the native plants that are abundant at the center are in their early stages of growth. Guests could appreciate the landscape and catch sight of the blue bird houses that are strategically placed in the prairie grass plot on the center’s south side.

Inside the Insectarium, plants are also coming alive and reviving. Right now there aren’t many insects or butterflies to see, but as the summer progresses, visitors should return and take it all in again.

Moving away from the insectarium and into the pavilion area, there were several tents and tables set up with activities meant to be fun and educational.

Among those displays, a bone guessing game where an actual Mastodon tooth fossil was on display. The tooth is one of the fossils that was discovered in the Creekside area.

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Other guessing games included identifying animal tracks and a shell identification game. There were also displays of various “arrow heads.” These are stones which in primitive times would have been chipped out of stone and shaped to use as a weapon for hunting game.

Under the pavilion, visitors had an opportunity to take home a tree for planting in their yard, admire primitive-style wood carving, choose a free gardening book or two, build a bluejay house, or paint a pet rock.

Out on the green grass, the Logan County Railsplitting Association was also on hand sharing information about the log splitting festival that is held each fall in Lincoln at the Logan County Fairground. They were also working to get the word out that this year, the Civil War Ball held in conjunction with the Festival will take place in just two weeks, on May 6th, at the American Legion in Lincoln.

At noon time, the Lincoln College String Ensemble arrived and set up for live music around the fire pit area. Picnic tables and straw bales were scattered in the grassy area, and visitors could purchase a hamburger or cheeseburger with chips for a quick lunch.

On the far edge of the park-like area, a petting zoo was set up that featured a wide variety of little animals that were a delight for young and old alike. Visitors also had the opportunity to scoop up a cup of food and feed the animals.

The walking path to Sugar Creek was also available for those who wanted to work off their lunch and enjoy the woodland and the creek.

Throughout the day, Dr. Dennis Campbell of Lincoln College was busy visiting with guests and making sure all was going well at the various stations set up throughout the center. Dr. Campbell is the force behind the Center, working diligently to keep it up, grow it, and share it with LC students and the public.

According to the visitor guide being passed out on Saturday, Creekside is open to the public seven days a week, 365 days of the year, from dawn to dusk. Visitors are encouraged to come out and enjoy the Center at any time and are also asked to respect the Center and its intended purpose. It is okay to build a fire in the fire pit or the brick barbecue, but please be sure all fires are properly extinguished before leaving the property. It is not okay to take plants or other property away from the site.

The public is also invited to be a part of the process through volunteering their time to the preservation and expansion of the native setting. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact Dr. Campbell at 217-735-7260.

[Nila Smith]


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