By Kirsten Delamarter
Update 4/8/2020 — Since this article’s publication, some state nature preserves have been closed. To check if a particular area is open, click here.
Science classrooms across the state may be empty for now, as we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 — but the learning doesn’t have to stop.
Here are some ways you and your family can stay in touch with environmental issues and explore nature while still practicing healthy habits.
Like many organizations across the state, the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s operations have changed to promote the health of all Kentuckians while continuing to providing quality service, guidance and resources to the public. More information about these changes can be found here.
For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus in Kentucky, please visit kycovid19.ky.gov.
1. Measure Your Home’s Energy Efficiency.
Take this opportunity while you’re at home to identify ways to improve energy efficiency and cut down on your energy bill. ENERGY STAR offers a free Home Advisor tool that generates custom recommendations based on information about your house, utility bills and appliances.
For kids, ENERGY STAR offers an interactive site where students can expand their environmental vocabulary, explore renewable and non-renewable energy resources and learn how small changes — like unplugging electronics when not in use — can make a big impact.
2. Take a Hike.
Hiking trails will remain open, allowing you and your family to get out of the house and get some fresh air. Just remember to adhere to the social distancing guidelines set forth by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
You can find our state nature preserves here.
3. Become a Citizen Scientist.
Learn about the flora and fauna in your own backyard. The app iNaturalist (and Seek by iNaturalist, aimed at younger nature enthusiasts), allows you to use your smartphone camera to identify species in the wild.
You can discuss your observations with the iNaturalist community and potentially contribute to scientific research. The Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves uses iNaturalist data to document the natural heritage of Kentucky.
4. Take a Virtual Field Trip to a Recycling Center.
What happens to the glass bottles, cardboard boxes and plastic milk jugs we recycle? Find out with a virtual field trip to a recycling center.
For a virtual field trip appropriate for pre-school students and kindergartners, check out PBS Learning Media’s Recycling Center Field Trip. For elementary students, check out “Follow that Bottle” from Scholastic News. For older kids and adults, check out SciFri’s short video, “The Big Sort: An Insider’s Tour of a Recycling Plant.”
5. Hunt a Big Tree.
Did you know that the Kentucky Division of Forestry has been compiling a list of the state’s largest trees in for more than 50 years? If you think you’ve got a winner on your property, you can nominate it using KDF’s guidelines.
Meanwhile, check out the award-winning trees already in Kentucky here.
Need more family-friendly activities and resources? The North American Association for Environmental Education is compiling a list of resources for home-based and distance environmental education here.