Natural land Institute volunteer guide Dan Williams was aboard the hay wagon transporting families through the wetland and prairie at Nygren Wetlands on Nature Day, Saturday, June 22.

By Jean Seegers
Nygren Wetlands Preserve has a knack for combining learning about the wonders of nature and science, and just plain fun. For the fifth year in a row, children and families descended on the wetlands, Saturday morning, June 22, for Family Nature Day, a free event that encourages young and old to peek into the wonders of nature.
After signing in and picking up passport booklets and backpacks at the registration tent, kids and parents had the option of either walking or climbing aboard the hay wagon to visit learning stations placed along the paths through the wetland and prairie.
Learning stations and sponsors this year were: Native Bee and Wasp Station; Bluebirds; Healthy Waters (Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee) and Fish (Severson Dells Nature Center.)
Prairies and Raptors; (Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab and Education) Living Soils; (Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District,) Seeds; (Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries); Archaeology, (Macktown Living History Center; Forests (Welty Environmental Center); Mammals; butterflies; and Wetlands.
Stations not represented by an organization were hosted by Natural Land Institute (NLI) Trustees, Education Committee member, NLI members and other volunteers.
At each station, children were encouraged to participate in a variety of activities. One of the favorite experiences was the Wetlands Station where adventurous boys and girls waded out into the muddy waters looking for signs of snails, fish, or anything they could catch with their nets.
Before leaving the stations, volunteers stamped the passport booklets. After completing the 13- station circuit, the booklets were turned in at the registration tent where the children received Nygren Wetland Junior Naturalist Badges and a certificate of recognition.
NLI Marketing and Membership Director Kim Johnsen said the event wouldn’t be possible without the support of grants, sponsors partner organizations and more than 50 volunteers. “We are very grateful for the support of the Kjellstrom Family Foundation,” Johnsen said. “This is the second year we received a grant from them. Their gift goes towards expenses to put on the Family Nature Day event.”
Nygren Wetlands is located at 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill.

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