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New ecoEXPLORE program kicks off at Columbus Library March 14

Kids in kindergarten through eighth grade are invited to the ecoEXPLORE Kick-Off at Columbus Library at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 14.

Learn more about the program with the North Carolina Arboretum, and sign up to become an ecoEXPLORER. Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, Conserving Carolina, and Polk County Parks & Recreation will also be at the event to offer trail hikes, hands-on nature activities and a live reptile program.

ecoEXPLORE is an incentive-based citizen science program developed by the North Carolina Arboretum. This innovative program combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology to foster a fun learning environment for children, while encouraging them to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science.

After signing up, participants go outside in their own backyard or at designated ecoEXPLORE HotSpots (such as Columbus Library) to find wildlife species, including plants, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds. Participants photograph their wildlife observation, noting the location, time, size and species observed, and then log into their ecoEXPLORE profile online to submit their observation.

Arboretum staff will then review the data and submit all approved submissions to the iNaturalist Network, which is used by real scientists.

For every observation made, participants can earn between one to five points, which can be redeemed for prizes. Most prizes can be picked up any GetSpot, including Columbus Library. Prizes include a compass, field guide coloring book, water bottle, journal, field bag, trail camera, iPod Touch, and more. Participants can also earn badges and qualify for free admission for special events held at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Polk County Public Libraries has two libraries, Columbus Library and Saluda Library, as well as outreach services. PCPL offers books, movies, music, audiobooks, and downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, as well as public computers and wireless internet access. PCPL offers regularly scheduled programs for people of all ages.

To learn more, visit www.polklibrary.org.

– Submitted by Jen Pace Dickenson