Alley Pond Environmental Center is not afraid to brave the cold winter weather and has scheduled an array of nature adventures as part of its adult programming, as well as some warmer indoor events aimed at stimulating its participants’ creative side.
“The goal of our adult programs at APEC has always been to foster a respect of nature, encourage healthy living and provide environmental education,” said Karen Donahue, APEC’s educator and adult programming coordinator. “We wish to inspire continued curiosity about our natural resources while living a healthy lifestyle.”
Donahue pointed to a Lisa Carlson quote: “Getting outside to breathe fresh air, see the sun rise, feel the breeze — these can be centering experiences that are vital to our mental wellness. It’s good medicine, and time with nature doesn’t require a prescription,” the American Public Health Association president said.
Though the outdoor programming follows strict social distancing guidelines, Donahue believes it provides the perfect opportunity to foster connections during a difficult time, both with other human beings and with the natural world.
A Winter Plant Walk kicks off the adult programs on Jan. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. Herbalist Jocelyn Perez will identify plants throughout Alley Pond Park and educate participants on their medicinal uses, edibility and even folklore. Though listed as an adult program, children and even leashed dogs are welcome to join at a $5 per person rate.
A Winter Bird Walk follows on Feb. 6 from 9 to 11 a.m. led by birder Woo Sung Park, who will point out the various waterfowl that migrate from the north to Oakland Lake each winter. Some birds even travel from the Arctic tundra. Adults and families are invited to participate for free and encouraged to bring their own binoculars, though capacity is limited to 15 people.
To celebrate Cupid’s holiday, forest therapy guide Linda Lombardo will lead the Valentine’s Forest Therapy Experience on Feb. 13 from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Participants will have the opportunity to slow down, open their senses and connect with nature in the style of Shinrin-Yoku, a Japanese forest bathing tradition. Unlike the other two outdoor excursions, forest therapy is limited to adults only at $15 per person.
“These programs encourage a time for togetherness, learning outside and connecting to nature,” Donahue said.
For those uninterested in trekking outside during the winter, APEC offers an indoor Winter Aromatherapy workshop on Jan. 31 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Certified aromatherapy practitioner and teacher Anna Mascia will teach participants about the benefits of six essential oils, how to create a synergistic blend and how to use essential oils safely. Participants can create their own products to bring home. The class is limited to adults at $22 per person, but parents can enjoy free childcare during the workshop.
Additionally, APEC has scheduled a Flip n Dip — Pour Your Heart Out class for Feb. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. where Jammin Canvas artist Cheryl Fruchter will teach different creative techniques. Participants can create painted works of art from frames, magnets, keychains and glass cubes. All supplies are included, and a few surprises are promised as well. Open to adults, teens and children, the class runs at $30 per person.
All in-person programs have limited participation in order to accommodate social distancing measures, but Donahue said that additional sessions may be considered if the demand if high enough. If a session fills up before someone can sign up, he or she can put their name on a waiting list, she said.
“We continually try to expand our adult program offerings based on feedback from our community,” Donahue said. For those uncomfortable meeting in social settings, APEC offers a variety of virtual programming available on its website.
For more information on APEC’s adult programming or to register for an upcoming event, visit alleypond.org.