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Hi everyone! As our monthly Hands-on-Habitat approaches, I've realized I need to get something off my chest. I have a pretty deep, dark childhood secret, known only to those closest to me. And considering my current occupation as an environmental educator, this may surprise you:

I didn't touch dirt on purpose until I was, like, 8 years old. Because, um, hello... GROSS.

Now, if your kids are cool with getting as dirty as possible, and they just want to pour Elmer's glue all over themselves constantly, and then eat the Mud Soup they mixed up out back, feel free to skip the next couple paragraphs.

But maybe you have kids like me. Or maybe you're like me.

Maybe you have a child whose passion in life is washing their hands. Maybe your kid won't play with Play-Doh, because it's just a little too messy. Trust me, I would have totally been friends with your kids. Getting dirty was absolutely not my thing, and to be honest, I still really like showering and being clean. I promise. But let me tell you – I realize now how much I missed out! Sitting down on the ground, poking around in the dirt, would have been a richly rewarding experience for me as a child.

Now, maybe you think I'm crazy. Why yes, you do indeed have a child who loves washing up after she gets dirty, because YOU like staying clean just like I do, and YOU taught her need to wash up! These are not bad things. Just be sure you don't miss all the treasures waiting to be found on and under the ground! There are all sorts of tiny discoveries to be made!

These treasures are the reason I am so very excited for this month's Hands-on-Habitat event! On September 19th, from 10 am to 12 noon, come experience these treasures first-hand – thrilling creatures such as millipedes, worms, snails, and even ants! We'll examine some of these tiny creatures up close, and learn why some live up on the earth's surface and some live underground. You can register for Hands-on-Habitat here.

As always, this is a drop-in event, so come at the time that's best for your family. Then, after you learn about some cool crawly critters, head out into the forest to play and discover them for yourselves! Don't be afraid to get a bit messy. That's how you'll learn best!

The act of getting dirty is a reward in itself, but it's what we find walking on the ground or burrowing into the soil that enlarges our thinking and teaches our kids curiosity, empathy, and respect for the lives of tiny creatures. I can't wait for you and your kiddos to be a part of this great day! See you then!

Hands-on-Habitat is a series of educational, hands-on classes for pre-school age children and parents brought to you by Fontenelle Forest and ParentSavvy.

Lindsay Cooley

from Fontenelle Forest

Lindsay is an environmental educator at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue. She was born and raised in Omaha, and is happy to be back after spending the past four years interning and working at various nature centers around the country. Lindsay has a background in environmental science, and is passionate about cultivating a love of the natural world in children and adults alike. When she's not cutting out craft materials or taking kids on hikes, Lindsay loves birdi ...

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