Children and adults listen Sunday to Registered Maine Guide Lou Falank explain how to smell and count the needles of a tree to identify it, as part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 4-H and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine program to introduce families to nature. The Outdoor Family Adventure program is open to the public. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — Ten-year-old Parker Lamb’s favorite bird is the bald eagle. In fact, he has one living in his backyard.

So when his great-aunt, Janet Sawyer, saw the Outdoor Family Adventure advertised in the newspaper, she thought it would be the perfect way to spend socially distanced time with Parker during the pandemic.

Sawyer and Parker were two of eight people to attend the event Sunday afternoon, all dressed in snow pants, hats and their warmest jackets.

All of the attendees toughed out Sunday’s cold for two hours, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The program was organized by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the 4-H. It was held off Belfast Avenue in Augusta.

The 4-H program affiliated with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension centers around agriculture, science, healthy living and civic engagement.

Lou Falank, a guide from the Mountain Bear Program, volunteered to run the event and taught attendees about winter outdoor safety, including a rundown on five different bird languages.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Falank said. “I really enjoy outdoor education, and I’ve only gone out a few times this year — three times since March. I’m very excited.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event had strict social-distancing rules.

Registered Maine Guide Lou Falank demonstrates Sunday how to utilize peripheral vision as part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 4-H and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine program to introduce families to nature. The Outdoor Family Adventure program is open to the public. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Adults were able to accompany the child they brought, but no other individuals were allowed. Masks were required and families had to stay within their own “pod.”

The program has been a work in progress, beginning last year, according to the coordinator, Alisha Targonski, but was halted and changed to this year because of the pandemic.

Before plans were changed, the event was to take place at Bryant Pond in Oxford County.

“We built in the family component to be with a parent instead of dropping them (children) off,” Targonski said. “Our goal was to do an after-school type program, but we couldn’t. We had to rethink it and limit the size and how we set up. It’s different, but the advantage is that it’s always been outside.”

Falank started with making sure the children were aware of their surroundings in the wooded area. He asked them to point to where the sun was shining and the direction the wind was blowing. All factors would be important in case they were to get lost in a wooded or dark area. He also taught them how to use “wide-angle vision.”

“This is a property that they’ve been developing for youth education for a while,” Targonski said.

The location is also popular for ice fishing and other outdoor skill-building activities. Falank used to volunteer with Bryant Pond, as well.

Parker Lamb, 10, sniffs pine needles Sunday with is great-aunt, Janet Sawyer, as part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 4-H and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine program to introduce families to nature. The Outdoor Family Adventure program is open to the public. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

He then showed them what he calls the “Walmart of the woods” — the Evergreen tree. One child even shouted out that it was the official tree of the state.

“If you ever get lost,” Falank said. “This tree will give you water, shelter, food and fire. That’s why I like to call it the Walmart of the woods. It has everything.”

He pulled a branch down so the children could see what to look for if they ever get lost in the woods. Falank told them there is more vitamin C in pine needles than in an orange.

It was unclear Sunday if Falank will lead the next event in the Outdoor Family Adventure program, which is to focus on how to make a fire and exploring the plants of winter and spring.

That session is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28, off Belfast Avenue in Augusta. It is free but registration is required.

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