Flying Squirrel Adventures Offer Great Ways to Get Outside this Fall

Flying Squirrel Adventures Offer Great Ways to Get Outside this Fall
By Ethan Lang

After a brief summer hiatus, the Flying Squirrel Adventures program will be
resuming its monthly nature outing series in the Kentville Ravine. Flying Squirrel
Adventures (FSA) is a collaborative program between the Blomidon Naturalists Society, Jijuktu’kwejk Watershed Alliance, and the Town of Kentville which aims to inform, inspire and connect nature lovers of all ages in the Valley through guided outdoor explorations.

This summer the program chose to offer a series of five special outings at different locations throughout Kings County, instead of the monthly meetings at the Kentville Ravine which the program had been offering previously. “We wanted to explore some new nature spots and provide programming in other areas to reach new audiences,” explains FSA program coordinator, Judy Lipp about the summer schedule. In September FSA will be returning to the monthly format they first established with the program’s inception in 2018. This involves free events at the Kentville Ravine the third Saturday of each month in which a guest presenter, an expert in their respective field, guides an outing for community members to learn about a certain aspect of the local environment.

Being the remnant of one of only a few old growth forests in our region, the ravine offers a unique and diverse biological environment while featuring maintained trails and public transport accessibility on the Kings Transit line.

Topics vary, but the meetings always begin with an opening circle at 10am. The group talks about the subject they’ll be exploring that day and participates in some activities together before dividing into two groups, one with a guide geared more toward children and another for adults, so as to ensure all visitors get the most from their morning. The event wraps up just after noon with a final closing circle where all participants are invited to share the highlights and lessons from their morning.

The next session will be held on September 21. Dalhousie researcher Simon
Gadbois will be on hand with red golden retriever Ivy, for a demonstration on dogs and their use in conservation efforts, such as monitoring and detecting different plants and animals.

According to Lipp, the goal of FSA is to re-connect people to nature through a blend of education, exploration, and simply allowing people to be outside in a beautiful location. “We want to cultivate an understanding of and a lifelong love for nature, which will in turn promote respect for the natural world on which we so depend, as well as encourage active, outdoor living.” However, its also about having fun and playing together as a community. “It’s in [children’s] nature to play outside,” says FSA facilitator Emily LeGrand. “Today many kids are leading a more sedentary, indoor-dominated lifestyle (adults too), with serious consequences for their well-being. We are part of a growing movement to address that by reminding people to get outside and play regardless of their age. Nature can teach us so much about ourselves, others, and the natural world. Being deeply nature-connected leads to love and respect for the natural environment and a sense of inner peace.” In these tumultuous times we could all use a dose of that medicine.

With that in mind, FSA is also looking forward to new programs this fall aimed at further promoting local interest in nature and healthy living, such as the interactive field guide project, which allows the public to help identify and catalogue flora and fauna within the bounds of the ravine through the app iNaturalist, as well as helping create a research database for naturalists and scientists, both amateur and professional. Also new is the Forest Play program for preschoolers, where once a week children aged 3 to 4 will get the chance to play and explore around the Kentville Gorge with program facilitators. Although this particular program is now full, the FSA team would be happy to hear of any further interest from parents to help inform future programming.

For more information on these programs or to contact Flying Squirrel Adventures, visit their website at valleyflyingsquirrel.wordpress.com