Parks department offers numerous nature programs

The newest offerings by Greenfield Parks and Recreation could be the most misunderstood.

This is only the second year that we have been able to offer programs like this to the public.

We feel that it is most important for people to get outside and explore the parks that we have. As housing developments are created or get bigger, much is lost that was there that can never be brought back. This is especially important for children.

As it stands now, the two major parks that we use for the programs are Beckenholdt Park and Thornwood Nature Preserve. Each has something the other doesn’t, so in a way, they complement each other.

The first year went pretty good, but it could have been better. One of the lessons learned resulted in our offering the programs more often and some of them on a rotating basis. Most of them will repeat throughout the season; the only exception will be those programs that are season-related.

One comment that I’ve heard is: If I want to see the outdoors, all I have to do is step outside. True, but are you really seeing it? To me, there is nothing better than sharing it with other people. Each time I attend a nature program, either in a state park, a city park or somewhere else, I learn something.

Not only can you learn from whoever is giving the program but also fellow attendees; there is always somebody who can expand on a particular point.

Things can be pointed out that you might miss because you don’t know they are present or have seen them but didn’t know the significance of them.

The parks programs start in April and end in late September, generally on a Tuesday or a Thursday with one exception (we’ll get to that program later).

The programs are held in either Beckenholdt Park or Thornwood Nature Preserve, as these two offer the best opportunity. I will add that if you have a group and want to have a program either on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon, contact the parks department, and arrangements can be made. Some of the offerings this year are a bit different than what has been offered in the past. Here are a few:

Passing Thro

ugh the Night

This gives you the chance to learn about the types of animals that pass through the night and the tracks they leave behind.

Invaders of the


Why are they here and how did they get to be where they are? A look at invasive plants in our area.

Within Ar

m’s Reach

A chance to see and learn about the diversity of plants all within arm’s reach (no matter how long or short your arm is). This class also shows why we prefer you stick to the path.


Not only are the types of trees covered but their uses for both man and animals.

Night Sounds

This is also known as our night hike. This offers a hike in the woods when darkness is approaching and a chance to hear those sounds not heard in the daytime. Held on a Friday night.

Blue Post

This one is exclusive to Thornwood. We have several spots marked with a blue post with information about the site. This is a chance to get more information about the area.

That’s in the Water?

In this program, we explore what types of animals are in pond water through a magnifying glass and try to identify what we find. This one seems to be a favorite of the kids.

We also have our wildflower walks and prairie flower walks. The spring walk at Thornwood is especially good.

Since the cattle have been removed, we have identified at least 37 different wildflowers (and I’m sure there are more) growing out there. The prairie wildflowers at Beckenholdt are really going strong, and we get to walk up to them rather than look at them from a distance.

For further information on the dates and times of the programs offered, give the parks department a call at 317-477-4340 or visit us via the city’s website,

Joe Whitfield is a naturalist and gardener for the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department.