Well, the New York winter is over! Many families and individuals look to enjoy the Spring and Summer weather outdoors; what a great idea! But, how to do it responsibly?

Here are some SMPIL ideas:

1. Go for a hike: Whether you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for something new to do, here are a list of NYS park hiking trails https://www.nynjtc.org/view/hike_ny.  Going for a hike is a great way to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life, enjoy exercise, and reconnect with nature!

*SMPIL suggestions:

-Bring a field guide and make a game of spotting and identifying the critters and birds you see to encourage learning and engagement of the kids! (https://www.amazon.com/Amphibians-Reptiles-York-State-Identification/dp/0195304446, https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Field-Guide-Identification-Guides/dp/1591931088)

-Be aware of not leaving your trail on the trail. Dispose of garbage appropriately.

2. Beach day: A day at the beach can be a blast if it’s done responsibly and thoughtfully! Let’s plan ahead.  Packing the sunblock, snacks, re-usable water cooler, and an umbrella can turn a trip to the beach into a super fun Summer day trip! To help the kids, and adults :), stay entertained and un-plugged consider bringing toys and games to promote collaboration and quality time.

*SMPIL suggestions:

-Check out some of these creative ideas for safe and active fun on the beach:

-Bring your own garbage bag (and don’t let it blow away :)).  Building your children’s sense of responsibility regarding the environment can start early and simply.  Teaching them to collect their garbage and to deposit it appropriately demonstrates internal responsibility of actions and outcome, altruism toward others on the beach, and engenders a thoughtful approach to the environment!

3. Enjoy local wildlife: Ducks, geese, turtles galore! Having an outdoor picnic can be a great treat and way to enjoy the hard work of our local municipalities (they are primarily responsible for keeping our waterways and green spaces clean and healthy on a local level) and Mother Nature! Feeding feathered, fuzzy and shelled friends can be a lot of fun for little kids, and the big kids in all of us.  A healthy meal is something we can all appreciate, and the physical benefits are undeniable.  This is true for wildlife too! Carb-loading isn’t good for anybody… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/16/dont-feed-the-ducks-bread-say-conservationists.

*SMPIL suggestions:

-What to feed our woodland buddies: Cracked corn; Wheat, barley or similar grains; Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick); Rice (cooked or uncooked); Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large); Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt or flavoring); Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook); Earthworms; Mealworms (fresh or dried); Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes; Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)