Urbana Park District Offers Virtual Hikes

By Connor Ciecko

The Urbana Park District manages 22 parks and natural areas in Urbana. Now that the weather is getting nicer, the Park District is relaunching its virtual series, “Connecting You with Nature.”

“Connecting You with Nature” is an event hosted every other week on Facebook live, each one highlighting a different nature preserve in the area. Park District staff spends an hour walking through the parks and talking about some different things guests can see and answering questions asked to them by online audience members. The first hike of the season was Wednesday the 10th at Busey Woods, just north of Downtown Urbana.

“Our goal is to introduce people to one of our natural areas and then encourage them to come out on their own,” said Savannah Donovan, Environmental Public Program Coordinator for the Park District. “[and] Facebook saves those, so people can go back and watch them after the fact.”

The preserves are ever changing, and viewers can expect to see something different in this cycle of virtual hikes even if they watched one in the fall.
Adjacent to Busey Woods is the Anita Purves Nature Center, which is the home of the Park District’s environmental programs. The center features a nature museum that group of up to eight people at a time can make a call to reserve and explore for an hour. Times are available Monday through Saturday from 10am to 2:30pm.

This week, the Park District is running a youth day camp for spring break, and, looking ahead is currently working to plan their summer camp and to plan events for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Donovan stressed that supporting the park district is as important now as it has ever been.

“Not everybody knows that we provide scholarships for people who don’t have the funds to be able to be able to attend some programs,” she said. “We ask community members to donate to that youth scholarship fund, so, the more donations we get, the more underserved individual can attend those programs.”

The Park District is also hoping to have volunteer opportunities for community members to help out going into the summer and fall. The next virtual hike is scheduled for noon on March 24th at Weaver Park.