StoryTrail Invites Wandering Readers

Any walk through a lush prairie garden opens the imagination and creates a sense of joy and wonder. Add a story to your stroll and a simple walk becomes a fresh exploration.

The Black Swamp Conservancy is adding storytelling to its Pat & Clink Mauk Prairie on the Conservancy’s homestead property with the installation of 24 permanent story panels. StoryWalks are an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children’s book are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down the trail, you’re directed to the next page in the story.

The Conservancy has been hosting StoryWalks on its protected properties, including Mauk Prairie, for more than five years. “We’ve used temporary signposts in the past, but with these new permanent panels, we will be able to host stories year-round,” said Laura Rodriguez, the Conservancy’s events and education coordinator.

Conservancy educators will select stories that complement the natural surroundings and the Conservancy’s mission. Stories will show the value of land that is preserved for all to enjoy, explain natural processes like photosynthesis or water filtration, and encourage exploration with information about pollinators that might be nearby or native plants that may be in bloom.

Each month, the story trail will feature different books about the natural world and accompanying extended learning opportunities. We’ll also hold a monthly drawing from the visitor sign-in sheets for a copy of the featured book. Planned titles include:

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Begin with a Bee
Written by Liza Ketchum, Phyllis Root, and Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Claudia McGehee
As the queen bee’s life unfolds through captivating illustrations, the authors share the brilliance and basic science of the rusty-patched bumblebee, the first bee to appear on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species list. The queen bee’s story helps readers of all ages understand and appreciate the contributions and significance of bees and also to think about our own responsibilities in the natural world.

Additional information at the end of the book offers suggestions for being a friend to bees, as well as a good citizen of the natural world. It also introduces the native plants that bumblebees need for survival. Begin with a Bee will inspire a child (or any of us) to seek out, identify, even cultivate these essential flowers and participate in the next chapter in the story of all bumblebees.

September 15th – Finding Wild
written by Megan Wagner Lloyd; illustrated by Abigail Halpin

October 15th – Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn written and illustrated by Kenard Pak

November 15th – In November
written by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Jill Kastner

December 15th – Winter Dance
written by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Richard Jones

The Pat & Clint Mauk Prairie is located at 4825 Sugar Ridge Road, Pemberville. Parking is at the Conservancy’s office. The property features 30 acres of native prairie habitat and contains several prairie pothole wetlands. The one-mile public walk is on mown grassy paths. StoryTrail is made possible by Seed-To-The-Sower, a donor-advised fund of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation.