I am very thankful for the faithful readers of the Messenger-Inquirer and the Joe Ford Nature Center's column Nature Notes. One of the most common questions is "How do you think of something to write every week?" It's from the many emails, letters and calls received concerning nature that I have been able to write a weekly column for more than two years. However, there are other reasons that a nature column can be written and that is because I am surrounded by nature on a daily basis.

During the summer and winter, JFNC has 10 nature camps. Throughout the year, there are public events, and, during the school session, there are field trips. The other MI columnists can probably attest to the same, such as Teresa Rowe's Saturday column in the religion section. Rowe has surrounded herself with God and lives daily with the word, so it's natural to write things in regards to truth and love.

There may be some who can write an interesting article about nature, but living nature gives a new meaning to the written word. Watching Natural Geographic or the Discovery Channel gives plenty of insight into chasing wild game or wrestling with an alligator but to actually participate gives the thrill, experience and memory. The people who cross the threshold of the Joe Ford Nature Center come for many reasons such as sharing stories about how Joe Ford influenced their lives and others wanting to find out what nature is all about.

Children are the best in wanting to learn about nature because nature is cool. Nature is different and the same thing doesn't happen every day. There have been moments when several deer were spotted feeding on the vegetation near the building. It is known that deer have been around the trails from the spotting of hoof prints but to actually get a glimpse of them it will have to be on a quiet day where there is little or no human activity. During nature walks, children may ask, "Will we see any animals?" During any narrative hike, the guide will point out different ways of spotting animal tracks. If larger animals can't be spotted, there always is a good variety of birds that can be seen and heard in and around the center or out on the trails that encompasses the 13-acre nature park.

I love nature, and yes, I was that mom who would run back into the house to tell my children, "Oh, come look at this." It could have been a bush covered in butterflies, a rainbow, bird nests with eggs, hummingbirds drinking nectar, or any kind of nature that I thought was cool to watch. From instilling that wonderment about nature, my children find they are doing the same with their children. Living nature creates special memories and enjoyment that can be shared with anyone.

Joe Ford Nature Center wants to share and make memories -- any hands-on events can be possible by calling the center or visiting the web page to request more information and schedule an event date. For more information on JFNC events, visit our Facebook page, as well as Owensboro Parks and Recreation and Visit Owensboro web pages, and 202 Things to do in Owensboro brochure.

If you have someone who loves or loved nature, by donating $50 to the Joe Ford Nature Center a trail bench can be dedicated in their honor. During the Family Jamboree event, a picture of the bench will be present where some of the donor plaques can be viewed. This family event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at JFNC.

Nature Notes runs each Wednesday in Community. Deborah Branch can be reached by phone at 270-344-0596 or my email at jfncdirector2017@gmail.com. To get to JFNC take Second Street (U.S. 60 West) to GRADD Way.

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