Rangers to the rescue

Winter fun can include Washoe County’s parks

Park Ranger Marie Fong has been in the parks for 10 years. These days, she’s hoping Old Man Winter will make tracks in this neighborhood.

Park Ranger Marie Fong has been in the parks for 10 years. These days, she’s hoping Old Man Winter will make tracks in this neighborhood.

Photo By David Robert

The Park Rangers of Washoe County are ready and waiting for you to show up to one or many of their winter educational programs with your children or nephews or grandkids, or even neighbor kids. The programs are all different—outside, inside, with stories and activities, individual, self-paced activities, or guided ranger hikes for your class.

Park Ranger Marie Fong has been in the parks for 10 years, from Bowers Mansion to Davis and Galena Creek to Rancho San Rafael.

“I love programming!” Ranger Marie exclaims. Her office is full of boxes labeled Animal Tracks, Dress like a Ranger, Senses Scavenger Hunt and at least a dozen others. “The teachers teach the basic science, and I can expand so much on it. It’s so fun to take those topics and push it to the extreme, to learn so much in detail. I think it serves a really good purpose because it gets the younger generations involved in parks. It teaches them an appreciation for them, and it connects them to nature. And then they become park users.”

Park Ranger Marie has developed several wintertime programs and activities for children. Her most recent program is the Junior Snow Ranger Program at Galena Creek Park, which includes such activities as weather recording, making geological observations, looking for clues about park wildlife, identifying trees and plants, and meeting a park ranger. Once your child has completed the activities, the park rangers will mail your little Snow Ranger a certificate and a badge.

Ranger Marie says parents need to stay with their children. “It’s kind of a forced interaction between parents and their kids, and it’s a great time for a family learning and bonding experience.” So dad, if you don’t know about raccoon tracks or native Nevada trees, pack up little Jimmy, and you can both go through the program.

The Kids Night Out series at Bartley Ranch Regional Park is perfect for tiny tikes. Ranger Marie hinted at an Evergreen program, where she’ll read several kids stories about trees, then each child will make outside tree decorations to take home.

Come in From the Cold!, run by Park Ranger Jeff Glavor, puts a Western spin on family entertainment at Bartley Ranch Regional Park. Bluegrass concerts, cowboy poetry and local artists are a taste of what you’ll find every Saturday night in the Heritage Interpretive Center.

For the older group, six years and up, the Winter Funderland series takes your kids to the snowy hills of Galena Creek Park to build snowmen, participate in survival awareness training, learn to track animals in the snow and have a chance to interact with the rangers.

This is the perfect opportunity for mom and dad to get into snowsuits and wooly caps and show the kids how to make better snow angels. And you might even learn how to track that raccoon that’s been stealing your cat’s food.

For more information, check out:

Bartley Ranch Regional Park: 828-6612

Galena Creek Park: 849-2511

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park: 785-4512