Mikayla Acevedo, 9, of Hammond hangs a pine cone covered in birdseed during the edible ornament program at Gibson Woods Nature Preserve in Hammond, Ind., on Dec. 8, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
If you go
† Gibson Woods Nature Preserve, 6201 Parrish Ave., Hammond, has trails open during the year, plus programs in the Nature Center.
† For more information, call 844-3188.
Updated: March 4, 2013 1:52AM
Youngsters visiting Gibson Woods Nature Preserve on a recent Saturday found cranberries, sliced apples, Cheerios, peanut butter and ice cream cones lined up on a long table in the Community Room.
But the food items weren’t there to make healthy snacks for the children; they were there to make healthy snacks for the animals using the Nature Center’s feeding station.
The annual edible ornament program found dozens of children, including 20 Boy Scouts, using their imaginations as they made decorations to be hung on outside trees and bushes for the wildlife.
“I’ve got lots of birds in my yard, and we feed them during the summer,” said Jeremy White, 10, of Hammond as he put peanut butter on a pine cone. “But I never thought they would like something like this.”
As he added a few dried cranberries and some birdseed, his mother, Janita White, talked about the program.
“This is being creative, using the peanut butter as the glue,” she said. “Jeremy will probably want to do something like this at home. I guess we can come up with some foods the birds will like.”
Anna DeWitt of Hammond hadn’t planned to visit the Nature Center when she took her baby-sitting charges, Dylan Koonce, 4, and Kayla Koonce, 5, for a walk.
“Then we saw all the activity in here and decided to see what it was all about,” DeWitt said. “The kids are really having fun, and this is good for them. It teaches them something about nature and the wildlife we have here.”
Joseph Richards of Merrillville agreed as he watched his son, Joey, select ingredients for his ornament.
“With all the busyness of the holidays — shopping, planning and other things — it’s hard to find quality things to do with the kids where they won’t get bored,” he said. “Here, they are doing something original and giving it as a gift to the birds.”
After the ornaments were finished, they were taken outdoors. Then, the craft participants retreated to the Bird Room inside the Nature Center. This large room, complete with upholstered chairs, allows people to observe the feeding station through large glass windows.
“It’s great the little birds like what we made for them,” said Kyle Whitman, 5, of Hammond. “It’s fun to watch how they eat with no hands.”