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      Family fun during winter

      While some kids were creating holiday ornaments from birch bark, others were preparing for a moon-lit hike with snowshoes. The Nara Nature Center and Park is giving families a chance to learn more about nature by using organic materials for crafts and exploring what winter has to offer. "One of the things we've seen is kids don't spend as much time outdoors as they used to, and winter often times is a very sedentary time," said education program coordinator Joan Chadde. To keep kids moving this winter, Michigan Tech TMs Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Western U.P. Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education sponsored a Winter Family Fun Night. This is the very first Winter Family Fun Night, and the event was geared toward getting kids more comfortable with the outdoors. "I think it's important that my kids know about nature, and being outside is a good way of doing that," said mom, Denise Landsberg. Kids and their parents used flashlights to guide them through the trail, and they also learned about the different nocturnal animals to look for while snowshoeing. AmeriCorps volunteer Beth Squires helped come up with this idea and soon began collecting all of the natural materials for holiday ornaments. "The birch bark is all collected from down birch trees. If you do peel birch bark off of live trees, it can kill them, so it's all collected off of down trees, and the other materials were found locally," said Squires. Creating their own designs wasn't much of a challenge for these kids, especially with all the pine cones, berries and other materials around. This Winter Family Fun Night is turning the cold winter nights into a fun family gathering, and it's giving kids the opportunity to see the outdoors in a whole new way.