Ney Nature Center is gearing up for a busy summer, and they are bringing new programming.

The nature center is starting up a brand new senior learning program that staff hope will engage the seniors with the Le Sueur County park.

The learning series will take place on the third week of each month, covering a range of different topics, from local flora and fauna to renewable energy.

Currently, the monthly program has the first three sessions planned, said Josh Sweet, program and marketing coordinator for the center. However, he said they are hoping to stretch it out to a year round program.

“We, more than a lot of other nature centers, are really a community-focused group,” Sweet said.

The first part of the series will be led on June 15 by Sweet, in which he will introduce visiting seniors to the program as well as a lesson about the owls of Minnesota. In addition to a lesson about the different varieties of owls, the lesson will include a hands-on section where seniors will get to learn a little more about the animal’s physiology; they get to pick apart an owl pellet.

Sweet said the owl pellet operation is something often used by natural sciences teachers in today’s class rooms, but might have been less common when older generations were in school. Sweet said this program could give seniors an experience they have never before had a chance to experience.

Registration costs $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Visitors must be at least 50 to register.

The other programs, planned for July 20 and Aug. 17, will host local naturalists as they teach visitors about the migration of monarch butterflies and renewable resources.

Michelle Isaacson, programs coordinator at the center, will be leading the renewable resources class along with Sweet. Isaacson said it is important to include seniors in their community and give them a chance to connect with the world around them.

Beyond senior learning series, the center will also be hosting a nature camp that will let students bring their grandparents to the center to take learn about the world around them.

Sweet said that program will include hands-on learning, like inspecting water at the center’s frog pond to look for invertebrates. Using the information and creatures discovered during the inspection, the group will have a shot at determining the health of the pond’s ecosystem. The first of those events starts up on June 3.

Reporter Ben Farniok can be reached at 507-931-8576 or follow him on Twitter @LNHben.

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