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Tales for children

StoryWalk brings literacy and nature together

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Liam Schuur, 5, touches the nose of a bar-ba-loot sculpture in the Children’s Forest of John F. Kennedy Memorial Park on Tuesday evening. Webster County Conservation recently installed a StoryWalk for families and children to walk around and read stories at 16 stations around the Children’s Forest.

Isn’t nature neat?

That’s what Webster County Conservation is trying to show kids with the new StoryWalk trail at the Children’s Forest in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

The recently-completed StoryWalk trail is 16 panels of nature-related stories.

“We wanted to do it so it’s kind of on a child’s level, so the panels are lower so that they can get up close and personal with the panels,” said Webster County Conservation Naturalist Erin Ford.

The story told through the panels is called “Over in the Forest” and focuses on different types of animals, what they’re called and what their babies are called.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Webster County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Harris and his 2-year-old daughter, Jade, check out the Humming Fish sculpture from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” at the Children’s Forest at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park on Tuesday evening.

The panels are going to be changed out seasonally with new stories, Ford said.

“I think this one will run for a couple months and then we’ll put up another one,” she said. “Hopefully families will want to come out more and more because the story is different.”

To help introduce the new StoryWalk trail to the Webster County community, the park hosted an open house on Tuesday evening, inviting families to come check out the stories.

Friends of Webster County Conservation board members were on hand to scoop ice cream into cones for the kiddos and the JOYMobile book van was on site to make sure each child went home with a book to read.

Many families brought their young ones out to the Children’s Forest to check out the 0.3-mile StoryWalk trail. A popular site in the Children’s Forest were the chainsaw-carved wooden sculptures of characters from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” made by Gary Keenan, of Des Moines, last fall.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jason and Caitlin Trushcheff, of Fort Dodge, brought their children Remi, 4, and Thea, 2, to check out the new StoryWalk at the Children’s Forest of John F. Kennedy Memorial Park on Tuesday evening.

Amber and Travis Patterson, of Fort Dodge, brought their children, 4-year-old Natalie and 1-year-old Cora, to the StoryWalk open house on Tuesday evening.

“We like stories, so it’s great to have a family activity we can come do and we don’t have to pay for it and it’s outside,” Amber Patterson said. “We like to be outdoors.”

Throughout the Children’s Forest, visitors will also notice new black tree ID signs that identify the tree’s species, its scientific name, characteristics and shows what its leaves look like.

On the StoryWalk panels, Ford said, there are QR codes that parents can scan and it will open the Children’s Forest website, which has additional activities inspired by the story that families can do at home.

The StoryWalk was paid for by the Friends of Webster County Conservation, and is a great addition to the park, Ford said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
JOY Mobile volunteer Lisa Reisner helps 4-year-old Teddy Shelton pick out a book to take home, while his grandma, Deb Shelton, and mom, Natalie Shelton, look through other books.

“It incorporates literacy, physical fitness and nature,” she said. “It’s kind of a blend of all of those important aspects of being a kid.”

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