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story.lead_photo.caption A staff member in a long 19th-century dress talks about pollination to a family outside the old courthouse at Powhatan Historic State Park. Photo via Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Every day in our hyperthyroid world is labeled as a special day to salute something or other, often with a rather obvious promotional angle.

That's the case this Saturday, variously declared to be National Cheese Souffle Day, National I Love Reese's Day and National No Dirty Dishes Day. It will also be National Visit Your Relatives Day, National Mother Whistler Day and (gasp!) World Whisky Day.

However whimsical some of these annual occasions may be, others are actually worth celebrating. That's the case with National Kids to Parks Day, the inspiration for Saturday programs at about one-third of Arkansas' 52 state parks.

Devised in 2011, the day has educational aims, as its sponsors declare: "By discovering and exploring our public lands, kids across the country can learn about park stewardship, outdoor recreation, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the history of our country."

Here are some of the activities on Saturday's schedule. Participation is free unless otherwise noted:

Parkin Archeological State Park. Along with its prehistoric American Indian exhibits, Parkin is the site of restored one-room Northern Ohio School, which served black students a century ago in the lumbering era. Families will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the visitor center, then go to the school to learn about classroom assignments, games and toys played at recess, and even the outdoor bathrooms then in use.

Powhatan Historic State Park. Indoor and outdoor events from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday will travel figuratively back to 1888, when the imposing old Lawrence County Courthouse was built. Powhatan staff will demonstrate toys and games that entertained youngsters at a time when television and the Internet existed only in the remotest of dreams.

Lake Ouachita State Park. There's a charge of $10 for adults and $6 for kids 6-12 to explore Lake Ouachita by boat from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday. A park interpreter will talk about local nature and history along the way. Meeting time is 1:45 p.m. at the visitor center. Free activities include a nature walk to look for wildlife at 9 a.m. and the making of snakeskin bookmarks at 11 a.m.

Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources. At this site in Smackover, Saturday's two-hour Art in the Park activity starting at 10 a.m. will describe the region's oil boom of the 1920s. Then youngsters will each sketch a picture of what they like most about the park, with art supplies provided. This Kids to Parks Day program is free, but reservations are required by calling (870) 725-2877.

Lake Fort Smith State Park. Five Kids to Parks Day programs take place Saturday at this Northwest Arkansas location. At 10 a.m., youngsters sign up to be Arkansas State Park Explorers. From 10-10:45 a.m., they take a guided hike on the War Eagle and Dogwood trails. From 2-2:30 p.m., a park interpreter asks them to identify park photos, sounds and objects. A Scavenger Hunt Challenge goes from 3-4 p.m. From 7:45-8:30 p.m., a staff member leads an Owl Prowl looking for these nocturnal birds of prey.

Woolly Hollow State Park. Edible Bugs is the theme of Saturday's 11-11:30 a.m. event at Woolly Hollow. Kids will learn about "some of the unique ways bugs are used in today's cuisine," and try some actual bugs for themselves. They don't have to eat any to attend, but insect nibblers will receive an "I Ate a Bug" certificate. An easy history hike starting at the pioneer-era Woolly Cabin takes place from 1-1:45 p.m. A game of "Predator Prey Freeze Tag" is scheduled from 3-3:30 p.m.

Other state parks with Kids to Parks Day programs scheduled Saturday include Arkansas Post, Bull Shoals-White River, Crowley's Ridge, Davidsonville, DeGray Lake, Lake Chicot, Lake Dardanelle, Lower White River, Mammoth Spring, Ozark Folk Center and Withrow Springs.

More details on National Kids to Parks Day activities can be found at

Style on 05/14/2019

Print Headline: Students get their own day for learning in state parks


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