During 2016, I set 16 goals. Some were new goals, some were continuations of ones I enjoyed in 2015, and others were ones that I didn't have a chance to complete in 2015. I did not do nearly as well in 2016 with my nature goals as I did in 2015. An imbalance in volunteering - which took too much of my time - interfered with what I wanted to do in terms of nature exploration and appreciation.
So, in 2017, rather than set 17 goals I'm paring back a bit to the ones that I feel are realistic and meaningful to me.
1. Take 6 new hikes. Last year, the new hikes I did were in Washington and Idaho - two of the states that my sister and I explored in June. We purchased a state park pass that allowed us to visit many of the parks as we drove from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene (Idaho). It was a wonderful way to see the natural beauty of this part of the United States.
One of the many waterfalls that
my sister and I saw in Washington.
During 2017, most of the new hikes I take will happen when we are taking a trip to Arizona this year and exploring some new state and national parks.
2. Assist as needed with the Wildlife Project Bowl team for our 4-H Club which includes reading 6 nature books or publications. This is a transition year in that for the past two years I have coached a junior team (2015) and senior team (2016). Sophia coached the junior team in 2016 and will continue to do so this year. We are not doing a senior team.
After this season, we will pass on the baton to another parent who is interested in coaching in 2018 since Olivia will be too old to be on the junior team.
This year my focus is on writing more questions from Woodworking for Wildlife and Landscaping for Wildlife as well as some of the bi-monthly publication of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer.
3. Visit 5 state parks that I’ve never seen. I continue to want to visit several parks in Minnesota: Afton, Fort Snelling, Lake Maria, Frontenac, and Forestville/Mystery Cave. It would be nice to go as a family when possible, and take the dogs with us on some of the visits as we explore new trails and parks.
Fort Snelling State Park.
I'd also like to explore some state parks when we go to Arizona this year.
4. Visit 4 nature centers that I haven’t visited before. This can be done in Minnesota and/or Arizona.
5. See four National Parks, Forests, and/or Monuments; and/or Reservations. Most likely, these would be in Arizona.
Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.
6. Do 1 entry per month in my nature journal. For some of those entries, identify and journal about 3 new types of wildlife and/or birds. I'll use the Handbook of Nature Study for information as well as the internet.
7. Go on a camping trip. We have reservations to go camping in a yurt at Afton State Park in May. As a back-up, I've also rented a camper cabin during the same time so the girls have their choice of places to sleep.
Camping at William O'Brien State Park
when the girls were much younger.
8. Plant on our nature trail 10 trees and shrubs that are native to Minnesota. We used to have a closed-loop trail on the back part of the farm when I did an art and farm camp for children.
After I stopped doing the camp and a development was built adjacent to our property, I no longer had a desire to walk back there. Now, after planting evergreens about a decade ago along the border, they have filled in quite nicely.
Last year, we had someone come in with a large tractor and mower and mow a path twice during the summer. We will need to do this again since the pathway is still bumpy in spots from gopher mounds.
Once the pathway is re-mowed this spring, I need to make a commitment to mow it regularly so that it is a walkable path.
Both Sophia and Olivia also are doing 4-H projects about how to attract different types of birds that they like to one's backyard/farm. Based on what they learn, we would plant various trees, shrubs, and other flora that support these birds. I'd also like to see some of the trees and shrubs that are particularly beneficial to bees and other pollinators planted near the pathways since we have three beehives near the trail.
Beech tree - one of the trees that indigo buntings like.
9. Attend 4 workshops, classes, or activities at state parks. These could be information presentations or hands-on activities that build new skills.
10. Have 6 picnics when the weather is pleasant and we aren't battling with mosquitoes. We did some picnics last year early in the season which I enjoyed. However, most of the summer was so hot that it was not enjoyable for us to be outdoors. Spring and Fall are the best times for us to enjoy eating outdoors. I need to be more diligent in planning and having picnics either in the backyard or at a park.