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Annual Explore Mission Trails Day 'Connects Children to Nature'

On Saturday, young children will discover the joys of nature during themed trail walks and hands-on activities at different “Explore Stations,” free pony rides and up-close encounters with raptors, reptiles and other live animals.

The Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation recently made the following announcement:

Looking for ways to get your children excited about going outdoors and connecting with nature?  (MTRP), one of the largest urban parks in the United States, offers great opportunities for free year-round outdoor fun. On Saturday, May 19, families are invited to learn more about those opportunities through an annual celebration entitled: Explore Mission Trails Day

Young children will discover the joys of nature during themed trail walks and hands-on activities at different “Explore Stations,” free pony rides and up-close encounters with raptors, reptiles and other live animals.  Older kids and adults will have a chance to try out high-tech hiking poles or rock climbing and experience a twilight hike. 

Times vary but most events will take place between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Activities will take place in several different areas of the diverse park, but will be focused mainly around the Visitor and Interpretive Center and the Equestrian Staging Area at SR52 and Mast Blvd.  Shuttle service from various parking locations will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Explore Mission Trails Day 2012 (EMTD) has a special focus on introducing children to nature—without having to drive to the back country. Scholastic Publishing’s Ms. Frizzle™ will help educate little ones about one of San Diego’s most common wild critters, courtesy of the San Diego Natural History Museum.  The wacky, red-haired character from the book series, The Magic School Bus©, will present a special program about coyotes in the Visitor Center’s outdoor amphitheater at  10 and 11:30 a.m. for children ages three to eight years, teaching them basic conservation concepts, and how to observe elusive neighbors.

For older children and adults, Adventure 16 Outdoor Outfitters will operate a booth until 11 a.m. at the base of Cowles Mountain, loaning high-tech hiking poles to those interested in trying them out on their way up the mountain and back.   

Small children can ride ponies for free (only until 1:30 p.m.) in one of the arenas in the Equestrian Staging Area near the Mast Blvd. entrance to the Park. In the same area, there will be a climbing wall, and Project Wildlife will bring rescued wild animals for the public to view

At the Visitor Center, other wildlife groups will present live raptors and reptiles. In addition to Ms. Frizzle’s programs, there will be crafts for children in the classroom (ages 3 and up). If weather permits, a special scope will be set up on the terrace for sunspot viewing with local astronomer/naturalist George Varga. 

Mission Trails Regional Park is a 6,150-acre “open space” urban park, located between Highway 52 and Highway 8 at the eastern end of Mission Valley.  Bordered by the communities of Tierrasanta, Santee, San Carlos and La Mesa, the park is managed by the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department.

EMTD is an annual joint venture of the Park and Recreation Department, Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation, a non-profit fund-raising and advocacy organization for the park, and San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald.  Title sponsors for the 10th annual celebration include the City of San Diego Special Promotional Programs, County of San Diego and Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, and Republic Services, Inc.   Community Sponsors include Olive Garden Italian Restaurants, SDG&E—A Sempre Energy Utility, Superior Ready Mix and Quail Brush Genco, LLC.  Five Star Tows & Charter Company is a Neighborhood Sponsor, and Kaiser Permanente is sponsoring the free pony rides.

 A detailed map of the park and schedule of other Explore Mission Trails Day events, including family nature walks and children’s “explore stations” are available online at www.mtrp.org or at the Visitor and Interpretive Center information desk.  Volunteers can also answer questions at (619) 668-3281.

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