Adults and families can immerse themselves in "Summer Investigations" with McHenry County Conservation District. Visit the district's website at www.MCCDistrict.org to view the programs in greater detail or sign up to receive the quarterly newsletter Landscapes. Registration is accepted online, by phone, mail or walk-in at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779.
Campfire Cooking -- Dutch Oven Basics: Are you interested in learning how to make fun and easy foods for your next family camp-out? Learn the basics of campfire cooking with a cast iron Dutch oven from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 15 at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake. Hands-on cooking techniques will be taught by an experienced Dutch oven cook. After learning the techniques, you will test your knowledge by cooking over a campfire. You will leave with information on how to care for your cast iron, as well as a sample campfire menu. The program for adults and families with kids age 10 and older is $5 for county residents; $6.25 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Tuesday, July 10.
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Cold Blooded Critters: The district's Wildlife Resource Center will give an indoor presentation on reptiles and amphibians and will bring a live animal as an example from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12 at Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood. Then head outside for a hike to explore reptile and amphibian habitat and play games. Dress for the weather and be prepared to hike on uneven terrain. The program for adults and families is free for county residents; $5 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Saturday, July 7.
Nature + Fitness = Good Health: Abundant scientific evidence shows that activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the sense of well-being and one's health. Join them for a dose of green exercise, fresh air, good camaraderie, and then be inspired to continue on your own from 10:30 a.m. to noon Friday, July 20 at Pleasant Valley Conservation Area, 13315 Pleasant Valley Road, Woodstock. Maximize the benefits of hiking for exercise by learning about proper posture, muscle strengthening and stretching, and try simple exercises using natural features in the outdoors to improve your physical and mental health. District staff will enlighten you about your surroundings, while a Centegra Health Bridge personal trainer and a Running Depot representative will share their expertise. Dress for the weather and a good hike. Bring a water bottle. The program for ages 14 and older is free for county residents; $2 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Sunday, July 15.
Fantastic Fireflies: Find out about the firefly life cycle and play games that help you learn more about these flashy creatures from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake. Bring your picnic and dine on Prairieview's patio, which will be ready for your enjoyment 30 minutes prior to the program. The district will provide a summertime dessert. The last half-hour of the program will be spent enjoying the light show with your family. Bring a blanket and wear long pants and sleeves instead of insect repellent. The program for adults and families with kids ages 8 and older is free for county residents; $5 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Monday, July 9.
The Honeybee and What It Means to Us: No doubt you have a basic understanding of honey bees, and have occasionally been bothered by them. But beekeeping is experiencing a resurgence, and there are even hives on buildings in downtown Chicago! Perhaps you have even wondered what all the fuss is about? Join a local experienced beekeeper for an evening of bee appreciation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 18 at Brookdale Conservation Area, 18410 Route 14, Woodstock. Learn why are they so important to each of us and our ecosystem. The program for adults and families with kids ages 7 and older is free; $5 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Friday, July 13.
Things That Go Buzz in the Night: Ages 5 and older can explore the world of nocturnal insects from 8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 24 at Pleasant Valley Conservation Area, 13315 Pleasant Valley Road, Woodstock. The summer night is abuzz with fascinating insects, besides mosquitoes. Magnificent moths, beautiful beetles, calling crickets, flashing fireflies and many others are to be found out and about in the cover of night. Learn how to attract, catch and observe these tiny wonders. The program for country residents is free; $2 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Thursday, July 19.
Summer Sunset & Campfire: Gather the family for an evening campfire program from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 27 at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area, 3100 N. Route 23, Marengo. Activities will include stories, songs, snacks and educational fun for the whole family. The program for adults and families is free for county residents; $5 for nonresidents. Registration deadline is Sunday, July 22.