Bronx Zoo Nature Club Spring Celebration

Bronx Zoo Nature Club Spring Celebration

Tarrytown Nature Club has partnered with the Bronx Zoo since 2014, helping run the free, grant-funded Bronx Zoo Nature Club. Folks from the zoo’s education department host monthly club meetings where families learn about nature and explore outdoors. As the community partners for BZ Nature Club, TNC and Kids Unplugged lead excursions throughout the year. This year we hiked through the woods on Van Cortlandt Park’s John Muir Nature Trail, sledded and climbed trees at Sleepy Hollow’s Rockwood Hall Recreation area, and scooped up water critters at Van Cortlandt Lake. The Spring Celebration, held at the Mitsubishi Riverwalk, was a chance for the nature club families to show the community what they’ve learned. Everyone pitched in to tend stations like bird watching and nature art, and the public was invited to explore and play. A nature-themed puppet show by Jilly Puppets added to the fun. Check out the slideshow to see some highlights from the day.

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5 Gift Ideas for Nature-Loving Mamas

5 Gift Ideas for Nature-Loving Mamas


Tarrytown Nature Club’s Katie Karpenstein and her kiddos on a Mother’s Day hike

Hey dads and partners- planning to make a mad dash to the big box craft store Saturday morning after soccer practice so you can have the kids whip up a Mother’s Day present? Skip that awful scene and check out our nature-inspired gift ideas instead.

1) Gift her a membership. There’s a lovely new movement encouraging people to gift experiences rather than things, and science even backs up that this makes us happier. A membership to a botanical garden, museum, or nature preserve will give mom a whole year’s worth of experiences- she can go with you guys, with a friend, or even for a date night (so you kind of win too). There are also more general memberships, such as Parks and Trails New York, which gives access to great hiking info and discounts at a host of accommodations and activities. An Empire Passport gives her a year’s free admission to New York State Parks. Or go national with an America the Beautiful pass.

picnic2) Plan a picnic. Mom is often the “planner” in the family, so one of the nicest gifts you can give her is to let her sit back and relax while you take care of every detail. Sit down with the kids one night (maybe take them to a coffee shop so you can keep everything secret!), choose a location (making sure that picnicking is allowed), and plan a menu. Make a checklist of everything you’ll need to bring, from the picnic blanket to utensils to that supermarket banana cream pie she loves. Shop with the kids for supplies, or make plans to take them out to do that Sunday morning and set mom up at home with coffee. Have the kids make cards and a special invitation to the picnic. Pack everything beautifully, with a cloth tablecloth and a hand-picked wildflower bouquet in a little mason jar. Bring some balls and frisbees for the kids. Then pick up mom, bring her to your chosen spot, and let her enjoy the scenery while all of you set up the picnic you’ve made for her. It’s the effort you all put in to it that will touch her heart, not the money you spend, so take the time to make it feel special.

3) Plan a weekend excursion. Maybe you’re doing brunch out on Mother’s Day, or you’re visiting relatives. You can still give mom that “ahhh, I didn’t have to plan it” feeling by arranging a little trip for her. If she likes camping, you can book a site anywhere in the country through Reserve America. LL Bean and Orvis offer affordable trips and classes in fly fishing, kayaking, and other outdoorsy skills. Whatever you choose, don’t just book it- take care of everything else that needs to be done to make the trip happen, from arranging babysitting to making packing lists.

pineconehorse4) Make a nature craft. You don’t have to go to those soul-sucking mega stores to find stuff to make something naturey and nice for mama. Your local hardware store probably has pots, earth, and seeds- have the kids paint the pot (acrylic, so it doesn’t wash off) and plant some flower seeds. Or, you can use just the flower pot saucer to make a moss garden. The kids can gather pebbles to line the bottom, then add a little dirt, some gathered moss, and a “weed” tree seedling from your yard or local forest. Instant zen! There are a bazillion nature craft ideas on the web, and this book has some great ones too. (Reserve it at the library, or see what other craft books they have.)

5) Buy her some sweet gear. So you’ve got your heart set on having a physical, wrapped present for mom. That’s cool. But instead of jewelry or clothes, get her something that can open a door to more nature experiences for her and the whole family. This cute little stove packs in a day pack and can make a hot mug of tea in a jiffy. The right pair of hiking boots could make her next trek a little more comfy. Or let her take a mini-vacation any time with a soft hammock set up under a tree. (This one is less comfy but cheaper, and packs light for camping.)

It’s not too late to find a meaningful gift for the nature-loving mama in your life. Good luck, enjoy the day, and don’t forget that pie.