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    Winter Programs For All Ages Put Nature Front And Center

    At Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, winter weather hardly means it’s time to hibernate. Nature programs and every day offerings keep kids and families active and engaged even when temperatures dip.

    “Winter is the perfect time to come out for a program or visit Hickory Knolls,” said Emily Shanahan, nature programs supervisor for the facility operated by the St. Charles Park District. “Our programs can help you and your family beat cabin fever. Come and visit the animals, play at our nature nook, and take a hike on our trails.”

    The brand-new Wintry Wednesdays is geared to kids ages 2 to 5 and their parents. The program will center on a different theme, from arctic animals to snow and more, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday in February. Participants will explore via naturalist-led activities, songs, stories and outdoor time. Tickets are $7 per child while adults are free. Advance registration is required.

    The popular free drop-in program, Hangin’ with Hickory Friends takes place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Stop in for an up-close meeting with one of the center’s critters and to learn more about the animal ambassadors that live in the space.

    Mopsy, a black scruffy Lionhead rabbit, is a favorite of visitors. From 1 to 2 p.m. on February 12, kids of all ages are invited to celebrate her fourth birthday with crafts and games, including a bunny hop activity. Guests at Mopsy’s Birthday Party will also have the opportunity to learn more about the lives of rabbits. The cost is $10 for St. Charles residents and $12 for non-residents.

    The National Audubon Society is conducting the 26th annual Great Backyard Bird Count from February 18 through February 21. It’s a chance for experienced birders and first-timers alike to count and report sightings of various species in a massive effort to track ever-changing bird populations.

    Community members are invited to take part in this free citizen scientist program at Hickory Knolls from noon to 4 p.m. on February 18 as the Kane County arm of the countrywide organization shares how to identify birds common throughout local backyards. The center’s bird feeders will be stocked to the brim as participants await feathered friends to flock to the area. The event will also include themed activities and crafts for kids.

    For more information about Hickory Knolls programs, go to stcnature.org.

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