There’s a new game in town: Teens & 20s writer creates ‘Nature Bingo’

Editor’s note: The incorrect information for CERES was included in the print edition. The correct information can be found below.

By Chandler Holland
Times-News correspondent

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From left to right: Harper Jackson of Snow Camp and Ella Barney of Graham play Nature Bingo at Saxapahaw Island Park. [Tiffanie Jackson / Special to the Times-News

SAXAPAHAW — To clear the last hurdle to obtaining a North Carolina Environmental Educator (EE) certification, candidates are required to spend a minimum of 20 hours planning, coordinating and leading a Community Partnership Project that, according to the North Carolina Environmental Education’s website, “will engage members of a community, have a positive and lasting effect on the community, and will increase environmental awareness and understanding.”
This final project “gives the candidate practical experience applying what they have learned as an environmental educator.”
The Saxapahaw Island Park, located in the middle of the Haw River, is a stone’s throw from the historic textile mill, now home to a thriving adaptive reuse community with farm-to-table restaurants, local shops and unique performing venues. With fond memories of having grown up playing on its banks, the new park — with its easy walking trails, natural spaces, playground and accessible parking — was the perfect home for my Nature Bingo EE community partnership project. The Saxapahaw Island Park is part of the Alamance County Parks System, so they seemed to be a natural fit for the project’s required partnership. Additional partnerships, sought to create broad community support, included The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Healthy Alamance, Haw River Trail, CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsibility and Education in Saxapahaw) and Red Ridge, NC.
While the park has a number of inviting paths, as well as a great kids’ play area, there wasn’t anything that specifically encouraged learning about the island’s natural environment. The “Nature Bingo” playing cards fill this gap by providing a simple, interactive, kid-friendly, environmental education learning tool that will enhance each visitor’s experience in the park by encouraging exploration beyond the playground and onto the many trails through the park’s natural areas.
Saxapahaw Island Park Nature Bingo features original photography of the island’s flora and fauna, captured on the trails and riverbanks, displayed on reusable laminated playing cards. The cards are housed in mounted displays on the island. Nature Bingo is a self-directed activity that appeals to a wide age range, from pre-kindergarten through older teens, and creates an engaging adventure for the entire family.
Saxapahaw Island Park Nature Bingo is connected to an Instagram hashtag and account (#SIPNatureBingo and @SIP.Nature.Bingo), as well as a Pinterest account (pinterest.com/sipnaturebingo/boards). When a player posts photos of their bingo finds on Instagram, the account reposts them and organizes them by type in a board on the Pinterest

account. The Pinterest account includes additional boards with links to resources that extend and enrich the learning opportunities for this fun activity.
The park is located at 5550 Church Road, and both the park and paddle access are open every day of the year except for Christmas Day. The park opens at 8 a.m. each morning and closes at 5 p.m. November through February; 6 p.m. in March; 7 p.m. in April; 8 p.m. May through August; and 7 p.m. September through October. Gate accesses are locked at closing time.
Plan a fun afternoon with your family at the Saxapahaw Island Park, and don’t forget to pick up your Nature Bingo card when you get there.

For a complete list of park rules visit www.alamance-nc.com/recreation/outdoors/hrt/about-saxapahaw/sfna-location-hours-rules-2/. For more information on beginning your own journey toward EE certification, visit www.EEnorthcarolina.org.

Chandler Holland is a sophomore at Warren Wilson College and a Teens & 20s writer. She is certified as both an Environmental Educator and Interpretive Guide, and is the founder of Red Ridge, NC, a community organization based in Saxapahaw. For more details on Red Ridge, NC, visit its Facebook page.

 

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