Explore the outdoors at Merry Lea’s NatureFest, May 1-2


Event: NatureFest
Dates: Friday, May 1, 6:30 p.m., through Saturday, May 2, 2 p.m.
Location: Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, Wolf Lake, Indiana
Cost: Kids through college students: anytime, breakfast and lunch included. Adults pay $5 for Friday night only; $10 for Saturday only which includes lunch. Friday night plus Saturday includes camping, breakfast and lunch for $20.
Registration: Sign-up online or call 260-799-5869 to register by phone.

Take a hike, roast marshmallows or go canoeing at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center’s annual spring festival, NatureFest, on Friday, May 1, 6:30 p.m. through Saturday, May 2, 2 p.m. NatureFest includes the Turtle Trot 5-K run, hikes for all ages and interests, and booths with hands-on interactive nature activities. Camping overnight is an option.

This year’s NatureFest is geared especially to children under 12 years old and their families. NatureFest activities enable families to connect with nature in a wide variety of ways. Participants can go on a frog hike, take a wild edibles tour, make a birdhouse out of a gourd, go canoeing, learn about butterflies and other insects, and more.

Many are particularly intrigued by the idea of wild edibles. Accustomed to getting food from grocery stores and medicine from pharmacies, guests are enchanted when Merry Lea staff members point out that cattails make good pancakes.

Learn to decorate a birdhouse gourd at NatureFest 2015.

The annual Turtle Trot 5-K will take place on Saturday at 8 a.m. The entire race takes place on trails within the nature center, so runners will enjoy wetlands, woodlands, prairies, birdsong and many signs of spring along the way. Be prepared for mud. This is a race for all ages and ability levels. A Turtle Trot registration form is available online. The cost of the race is $15 and includes a T-shirt. Registration forms and shirt sizes must be received by April 27. Turtle Trot runners may remain for NatureFest at no extra charge.

For a full schedule of NatureFest activities, see http://merrylea.goshen.edu/news-events/events/naturefest-2015. Participants may pay at the door, but are asked to register online, or call 260-799-5869. Kids through college students pay just $5, which includes Saturday breakfast and lunch. Adults pay $5 for Friday night only; $10 for Saturday only (includes lunch); or $20 for both days.

Merry Lea was created with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy and the generosity of Lee A. and Mary Jane Rieth. The 1,189-acre nature preserve is located in central Noble County, midway between Fort Wayne and Goshen, south of Wolf Lake.