Trail of Tears program teaches about wildflowers

Sunday, July 10, 2005

About 45 nature programs to promote wildlife appreciation and education are held at Trail of Tears State Park during the summer.

Saturday's program, "Wildflower Bingo," was attended by visitors from Oak Ridge, Gordonville, Cape Girardeau and Benton, Mo. Susan Kelley presented the program for visitors to learn about wildflowers in a recreational way through bingo. Kelley also gave a laptop video presentation to familiarize the group with common wildflowers before the game.

But Clayton Moore and Sarah Mittrucker, both Cape Girardeau 11-year-olds, studied in the car on the way to the park. Moore had prepared a wildflower identification book with 15 dried examples for a Cape Christian School project last school year.

Kelley's video captured blooming wildflowers in time-lapse photography, especially helpful in identifying night blooming wildflowers. Species from across the nation, those indigenous to Missouri and even varieties found on the park's trails were in the video.

Kelley narrated the video with information on typical locations of species, color availability, blooming season and common names. The group participated by contributing species information as they knew it.

Participants came with an appreciation for wildflowers and shared their knowledge during the informal game. Stickers, books on wildflower identification and sunglasses were prizes for the winners.

Jeff and Dawn Grammer of Oak Ridge heard about the program on the radio. The couple, both Ceramo employees, decided to attend a program for the first time because it was something to do on their off weekend.

"We'll come back for another program," Jeff Grammer said. "We make the flower pots; we may as well know about what goes in them."

Eric Steinhoff, 8, of Benton, who tied with Jeff Grammer for the grand prize of a thick paperbound wildflower identification book, took the prize for guessing the number Kelley chose. Eric, who was on a five-day camping trip with Saundra Blankenship of Benton and Ryan Marshall of Gordonville, said he'd use the book to identify flowers when they went hiking.

Following the game, the group hiked up to the Otahki Memorial identifying wild hydrangea, tall bell flower, columbine, St. John's wort and perennial phlox along the way.

335-6611, extension 133

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