Banneker Park explores history and environment

Saturday Nature Series at Ellicott City landmark


July 14, 2005|By Lori Sears | Lori Sears,SUN STAFF

Explore the natural world at a cultural landmark Saturdays through early August at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Ellicott City.

Beginning this Saturday, young visitors to the park and museum can take part in the Summer Saturday Nature Series. The program, geared to all ages and free of charge, provides visitors with an educational and fun exploration of nature, at a unique location.

The museum, which celebrates the life and accomplishments of African-American scientist Marylander Benjamin Banneker, is situated on a 142-acre historical site.

"The Banneker Historical Park and Museum is dedicated to telling the story of Benjamin Banneker," says the park and museum's director, Steven Lee. "On the 142-acre park, most of the ground is dedicated to a wildlife habitat site."

Preservation is paramount to Lee for the museum and park.

"We're not only preserving the cultural history, but the natural history, as well," Lee says. "We tell the story of the Bannekers. When they lived here, there were many native species that are no longer here. We have a strong conservation plan. And it's part of our goal to nurture a greater understanding of ecosystems. It's out of that that the Summer Saturday Nature Series was born. I want to foster in kids a greater appreciation [of nature]."

The series kicks off Saturday with a program led by Abu the Flutemaker. Children will make their own instruments out of natural and unusual materials. The program runs from noon to 2 p.m.

On July 23, the program continues with a "Scales & Tales" event. From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., the Maryland Department of Natural Resources teaches visitors about birds of prey, snakes and other wildlife living around us. The group will be bringing along several creatures for the presentation.

On July 30, visitors can take a guided walk through the woods with Johns Hopkins University lecturer and nationally known botanist Charlie Davis. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Davis will lead the "What Is That Plant?" nature walk through the park and identify trees and plants.

Last up is the "Bird Walk and Talk" with park naturalist Jeff Nibali on Aug. 6. Nibali will guide walkers on an easy hike of Banneker Park and identify various birds along the way - by sound and sight. Walkers are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars.

The Summer Saturday Nature Series is an annual program at the park. More events are scheduled for next summer.

"Kids really love it, and it's free," says Lee. "The park is a great retreat."

The Summer Saturday Nature Series takes place Saturday, July 23, July 30 and Aug. 6 at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, 300 Oella Ave., Ellicott City. Free. Call 410-887-1081.

For more family events, see Page 33.

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