Last year I went cross country skiing for the first time in over 25 years. It was exhilarating and not just because of how fast my heart was pounding. I was clunky, slow, and nearly fell several times. But slowly I gained more balance, found a rhythmic pace, and fell in love with the peaceful feeling of gliding among the silent, snowy, trees.
No matter what your age, the key to a healthy brain and body is staying active, curious and creative. Whether you learn new skills or find new ways to use existing skills you will keep your brain sharp. Step outdoors and let your inner child wonder. What type of animal made that track? What tree has that white peeling bark? Which bird is making that sound?
Start a new hobby. Nature photography, collecting some army rank insignia pins, fly fishing, gardening for wildlife, mountain biking or birdwatching; outdoors your interests can be sublime or adventuresome. Now is the perfect time to get started. Check out a book, sign up for a workshop, or join a club.
Maintaining social connections is vital to well-being. During the winter months we spend more time indoors, alone. Joining or starting a group with a similar interest is an easy way to stay active and engaged. Locally there are Master Gardeners, the Robert Cooper Audubon Society, conservation clubs, and many other groups looking for new members.
Red-tail, Ball Sate University, and Purdue Extension are partnering to bring the Indiana Master Naturalist (IMN) program to Delaware County. The IMN program can provide you with many hands-on opportunities to learn about our Hoosier natural resources. It also provides a way for you to share that knowledge, along with your life experiences, through volunteer service.
A local program will be offered this spring at the BSU Rinard Orchid Greenhouse classroom, on Tuesday evenings from 6-9pm. The first class will be April 2, 2019 and run through June 4, 2019. The classes will be taught by local experts on subjects including river ecology, wildflowers, birds, tree identification, soils, conservation ethics, astronomy, pollinators, and others. Some of the meetings will be at local nature preserves.
There is a $90 fee for the class to cover materials and administrative costs. To keep the program interactive and hands on, the class size is limited to 24 people. Registration is near capacity. Click here to register now or join the wait list for the next session.
If you are interested but can’t attend this program, there are other IMN programs being offered around the state, visit https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/6323.htm to see the list.
Trying something new, getting outdoors, and being active is especially important this time of year. Bundle up and enjoy the sunshine. Even if it is just once or twice a week, natural sunlight will lift your spirits. Notice the shapes of trees draped in snow or the frozen stillness of the landscape. Take several deep breaths and feel the peacefulness of nature as you inhale and exhale. Get outside your comfort zone and enjoy the natural world.
Julie Borgmann is the executive director of Red-tail Land Conservancy. Her passion is connecting people to nature for conservation and well-being. Visit www.fortheland.org to learn about volunteer opportunities, find nature preserves to visit, or a guided outing.