ALTAMONT — Between presentations on local ecosystems, visits from reptiles and llama walks, the goal of the 12th Annual Ballard Nature Center Outdoor Day Event was to educate children on a variety of outdoor topics.
"We want people to take away a greater appreciation for the outdoors and some knowledge about nature," said Ballard Co-Director Pattie Gilepsie. "Maybe catch a fish and get a closer look or maybe learn about how Native Americans lived out in the wild."
That appreciation for nature comes from getting a hands-on touch with the way things once were.
"It's focused on not being in the house, playing video-games," said Clarence Funneman, a representative from the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, who led children through tomahawk throwing. "That's why I do this."
Parker Seachrist, 13, of Effingham, threw a tomahawk for the first time at Funneman's display. He said he was happy to be able to do something more active.
"I've always liked it," he said, "I don't like the city as much as the country."
Daniel Seidel, a student at University of Illinois Springfield and one of the presenters Saturday, believes teaching children at a young age about the environment is more likely to help them to see the relationship between humans and the natural world around them.
"I think if they see how we relate to the ecosystem, they'll relate to it," he said.
Seidel said early encounters with nature could help to inspire the next generation of environmentalists.
"It's all about the kids," he said. "If we instill a love for the outdoors, they'll grow up with a love for the environment. If they love the environment, who knows what they'll be capable of doing."
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or firstname.lastname@example.org.