Using the Guide
First time visitor
Each visitor to Sky Meadows State Park brings a unique combination
of knowledge and interest. The Nature Guide has been developed to meet
the varying knowledge/interests levels of all vistors, ranging from the
first time visitor with limited to no knowledge of Sky Meadows and its
may plants and animals, to the expert who regularly visits the park to
observe and record specific species (ornithologists are especially know-
ledgable of Sky Meadow's birds). Regardless of knowledge or interest
level, there is sufficient information contained in the Nature Guide to
benefit anyone visiting the park.
First time visitor
For the first visitor, the basic introductory information contained in the
"Sky Meadows" section of the Nature Guide should be read before
visiting the park. Information pertaining to location, geography, habitats,
trails, and general visitation issues are contained in this section, as well
as a short historical review of the park. The information contained in this
section should expedite planning a trip to the park; it provides all the
necessary information for a short day trip to a several day extended camp-
ing and hiking trip. The first time visitor may also want to review some
of the plant and animal sections, according to knowledge and interest.
The nature guide is also a valuable "after visitation" resource. Not being
able to anticipate what plants or animals they may encounter, first time
visitors are occassionally surprised by what they see. For example, during
the late spring and early summer, many first time visitors are fascinated
by the large number and variety of butterflies that are found on the
various blooming thistle plants. The Nature Guide includes a comprehen-
sive listing (with descriptive information) of Sky Meadow butterflies.
Those butterflies observed during a visit can be identified after the visit.
For the regular visitor, introductory information may not be necessary;
instead, more in-depth plant and animal information can prove benefical,
allowing the regular visitor to Sky Meadows to explore new areas of
interest as well as enhance their aesthetic and psychological appreciation
of the park.
An unfortunate aspect of many children's lives is they have little or no understanding or appreciation of the natural world and its intricate web of interlocking relationships, inlcuding relationships that can dramatically
influence their lives. Children bring a natural curiousity to the plants and
animals of Sky Meadows; they need knowledge to satisfy their curiosity
and the Nature Guide is a good resource to meet this knowledge need.
Typical questions might include,
Why are there so many birdboxes along Edmonds Lane leading
into the park?
Why are there so many butterflies on certain plants?
Which snakes climb into trees?
These common questions can be answered by referring to the Nature
While some parents plan their trips to Sky Meadows with specific activities
in mind, many parents do not. Even with their natural curiosity, it is not
unusal for children to lose interest in their visits due to a lack of knowledge.
Suggestions for bringing children to Sky Meadows include:
1) Curiosity is essential, but not sufficient, for children to have an enjoy-
able visit to Sky Meadows; focused knowledge on specific aspects of Sky
Meadow's natural world will better maintain children's interest;
2) Birds and butterflies, trees and wildflowers (herbs/forbs) are favorite
subjects for children's interest; providing information about these subjects
can greatly enhance a child's enjoyment of their visit. The Nature Guide
can provide such information, as well as many published guides;
3) Planning ahead greatly improves the opportunities to "draw" children
into Sky Meadows. By knowing ahead of time what they can expect, parents
can better prepare for their visit.
4) Use the Nature Guide before and after a visit to Sky Meadows - before
to engender interest, after to reinforce interest.
5) Do not physically "overreach" with children; nothing can more quickly
dispell a child's interest than to be physically exhausted by climbing up to
the Appalachian Trail on a hot July day. Walking with a child on the easy to
hike 1.14 mile Snowden Interreputive Trail in Spring will provide many
opportunities to satisfy a child's curiosity and interests.
Student: Students can use the Nature Guide to provide information applic-
able to school assignments and projects in science and history. Students can
also use the Nature Guide to plan for and implement "in-field" science and
environmental studies for school, boy or girl scouting activities, community
hour educational requirements, and volunteer activities.
Researcher: As is made clear times in the Nature Guide, further
zoological and botanical research is necessary to understand the full range
of plant and animal life in Sky Meadows Park. Until recently, only the
park's birds and butterflies had been adequately identified; in 2010 the
park's trees, shrubs, and vines were surveyed and identified, and a
initial survey of wildflowers (forbs/herbs) was conducted. Continued
research is needed in all these areas. Additional areas for research include
the ferns and grasses, sedges, and rushes, as well as lichen and fungi.
Systematic study of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians is needed, while
an inventory of natural occurring fish is also needed. High school and
college students, as well as professional biologists, zoologists, and
botanists can all make contributions to the Nature Guide, while the
many nature oriented associations can provide volunteers for surveys.
Crooked Run Valley