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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is bringing the fun to the great outdoors with “Museum in the Parks,” an event series that explores local Florida wildlife and gives participants a special look at museum collections.

Children, teacher and park ranger standing in the woods
Children can learn about wildlife, plants and more through guided and socially distanced exploration of local parks. ©Kristen Grace/Florida Museum

Aimed at children in grades K-6, the series includes four events that explore Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.

“My hope is that the kids and their parents walk away with a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world around them,” said Amy Hester, volunteer coordinator at the Florida Museum. “Florida has so many unique organisms and ecosystems that we can spend our whole lives exploring!”

Each monthly event centers around a different theme and is led by a scientist working or studying in that field.

Registration is required. The events include a short hike, so comfortable shoes and outdoor attire are recommended. All youth must be accompanied by a ticketed adult. Tickets are $12 per adult/child pair and include a day pass to the park. Early registration is recommended, as spots are limited. The February program at Devil’s Millhopper is already sold out.

Other events in the series are as follows:

As a supplement to the in-person programs, the series also offers free online videos that include self-guided explorations of local state parks. These video tours explore the parks and their unique array of plants, animals and ecosystems.

Florida Museum educator and series organizer Alberto Lopez aims to expand the program in the future.

“We also hope to work directly with local organizations to be able to reach a diverse audience,” Lopez said. “We envision this partnership happening once things normalize a bit more.”

Social distancing guidelines will be followed, and masks will be required at all times.

For more information about the events, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/kids/museum-in-the-parks.

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Writer: Ryan Helterhoff, 352-273-2032, printern@flmnh.ufl.edu
Sources: Amy Hester, ahester@flmnh.ufl.edu; Alberto Lopez Torres, alopez@floridamuseum.ufl.edu
Media Contact: Kaitlin Gardiner, 352-273-2028, kgardiner@floridamuseum.ufl.edu