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Junior ranger program gives youngsters a taste of nature

August 03, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Ten-year-old Abigail Roberts said her experiences in the summer junior ranger program at Greenbrier State Park have had a strong impact on her.

"I'll be more careful of nature now," she said as she finished up a scavenger hunt last week at the park off U.S. 40.

Abigail was one of four youngsters enrolled in the second junior ranger session held this summer.

The third session began today and will continue every Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 19, said Sara Trumpower, a naturalist who is coordinating the program this summer. Morning sessions from 10 a.m. to noon are for children ages 8 to 10, while the programs from 2 to 4 p.m. are for ages 11 to 14.

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These remaining sessions are open and inquiries should be directed to Trumpower at 301-791-4656.

"I can take as many as 10 children in a session," she said.

The junior ranger program helps children learn about nature and the outdoors through crafts, nature games and hands-on experiences. Children also learn something about what it is like to be a Maryland park ranger.

There are several levels of achievement along the junior ranger trail, and patches and other awards are earned for achieving each level.

Abigail wasn't the only junior ranger to say the best part about being in the program is learning how to care for the environment and how to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and responsible manner.

Eli Roberts, 13, started in the program last summer. "My mom thought of it and it's been great," he said.

"I like learning about nature but getting patches is fun too," said Ethan Letourneau, 9, of Braddock Heights, Md.

At age 8, LisaMarie Mowell is a veteran junior ranger, having participated in the program since she was 6 years old. In years past, children younger than 8 were admitted, but not this year.

"What's my favorite thing? My favorite thing is everything," she said. "Plus they are very kind to us here."

Abigail said if she had to choose, crafts would top her list. "And I just like being in the outdoors," she said.

A student at Hagerstown Community College, Trumpower, 23, is a seasonal naturalist at the park from May through September. A 1999 graduate of Clear Spring High School, she is the daughter of Greg Trumpower and Theresa Funk.

"I want to be a ranger, so this job was perfect for me," Trumpower said.

Children bring their own drinking water, but all else is provided for them. There are hikes, tie-dyeing and sand art projects.

"They also learn about Operation TLC (tender loving care) and Leave No Trace when they are out in the park," she said.

The junior rangers have learned how to become park rangers and how to recognize various types of trees.

"This session, I'm hoping to have a lifeguard teach water safety," Trumpower said.

The registration fee is $30 for the first child and $20 for each additional child in the family. To register or for more information, call Greenbrier State Park at 301-791-4656.

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