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What are trees good for?

I bet you can think of several things right off the bat, and I think your toddler could too! Trees make paper, right? And they get turned into telephone poles. Trees sometimes decorate our homes for the holidays. They provide material for cabins and the furniture inside. Trees are great! And humans have come up with very clever uses for them, and have even gone so far as to set up fast-growing, renewable farms full of trees so that the wood we use for our own projects doesn't come from our furry friend's cozy home.

Wait, what? Someone's home? How often do we talk with our kids about trees providing things like homes or shelters? I know I mentioned cabins a moment ago, but really, I don't think about it very often. Cabins aren't even close to the whole story! Trees, especially dead trees called "snags," are an extremely important resource for animals and birds needing a place to take shelter out of the cold wind. Woodpeckers, raccoons and owls use cavities, or holes, in trees to keep the cold out and the warmth from their bodies in.

Trees also provide a food source for many creatures, especially during the winter. Deer and rabbits will eat twigs, leaf buds, and even bark to survive after the grass is all eaten. Squirrels, of course, make caches of nuts all over their territory – nuts that trees have produced. Turkeys depend on fallen nuts in the dead of winter as well.

Isn't it fun to think of all the resources trees provide? There are even more living things that use trees, and even more uses to be explored – and we are all set to check them out at our next Hands-on-Habitat event, right here at Fontenelle Forest. On February 20, come join us anytime between 10 am and 12 pm at our main Nature Center in Bellevue. Hands-on-Habitat is perfect for kids aged 0-5 and their parents to interact together and learn about the natural world.

This month we'll have hands-on learning activities, real forest artifacts, and art projects all about trees and the creatures that depend on them to survive. We of course encourage you to take your kiddos outside as well! Even if it's chilly out, our 1-acre outdoor play area is just a couple of steps down the boardwalk, and it's fun enough to distract from the cold. To sign up this month, just visit ParentSavvy's Hands-on-Habitat registration page.

Hope to see you on February 20! Don't forget to hug a tree!

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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