While we were raising our children, it was important to us to make sure they were exposed to outside experiences as a family. We camped and day-hiked in wondrous places like Hocking Hills State Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and even places closer to home like Hueston Woods State Park. We took them paddling on lakes and rivers, even forcing all this family outdoor time into the teenage years when they weren’t that interested in outdoor adventures nor hanging out with their parents.
When my daughters were young, I often found myself back in some of the parks on my off day, as their requested adventure included going to a wet play area, a picnic lunch, hiking, exploring and of course, ice cream. How lucky were we to have access to all of those things together in one location!
As they grew older they became volunteers for Great Parks, supporting with hikes, events and day camps, capturing some of the critters for temporary displays or facilitating while children created artistic masterpieces.
I’ve worked as a Great Parks nature interpreter for 22 years, and still feel blessed enough to work in spaces so diverse and beautiful, sharing my passion for the natural and cultural resource with you. After all, you choose to spend your leisure time with us.
Looking back, I’m also thankful for the parks’ role in assisting with my children’s upbringing – an ideal backdrop for cultivating wonder, stewardship, service to the community and being a part of something bigger than yourself. For one of my daughters, Emily, the experience has proven to have more of an impact than I ever would have imagined. She has returned to her favorite childhood stomping grounds, working in Great Parks’ Conservation & Parks division. Her time is dedicated to restoring and sustaining thousands of acres of prairie, wetlands and forest, By being a steward of these wild spaces, protected and preserved for current and future generations, she is sharing her passion of the resource in her own way.
Suzanne Roth, Central Region Education Manager