Hunterdon County, NJ | Department of Planning, Economic Development and Land Use | Patrick Eckard, Recreation Leader

MEET LAURA BUSH, SENIOR PARK NATURALIST

Laura  Bush, Senior Park Naturalist
Laura with the new flipboard I built at the
Arboretum Wizard Walk children’s trail. 

My name is Laura Bush and I am the Senior Park Naturalist at Hunterdon County Division of Parks & Recreation.  I grew up in Hunterdon County and have always enjoyed spending time outside, whether it be hiking, birding, biking, or sitting outside reading a book and watching the hummingbirds. 

I have been working at the Parks for nine years.  During that time, I have created a variety of nature programming for both children and adults.  The Tot Walk series for 2- and 3-year-olds has become very popular.  Each month I pick a theme, and participants enjoy a story, walk, and craft on that same topic.  Spring Break Camp is on April 4 and 5 this year and caters to kindergarteners through fifth graders.  I have also led the Spring Nature Clubs for preschoolers in the past.  Adult backpacking trips are also a highlight of my job. 

I have a variety of nature interests, from native plants to insects to birding, and I am excited to bring a variety of programs to the public.  The next one will be Spring Equinox Hike on March 20, where we will visit the Arboretum and see what’s happening in nature at the start of spring.  In Wild & Woolly Natural Dyes on March 24, we will learn about the history of dye and use plants to dye yarn.  On May 25, I am offering the Bird Study Merit Badge for boy scouts and venture scouts, and Full Moon Hike on May 29 will be a fun time exploring Hoffman at night. 

This year I am also proud to bring in some outside presenters for special programs.  We will visit a local eagle nest on March 24 with Dan Kroon, a volunteer with the NJ Bald Eagle Project.  On April 9, Bruce Michael will entertain us for the evening with stunning photographs during Local Wildlife Through a Photographer’s Eye.  Moth Night with Blaine Rothauser on June 1 will be a night to remember as hundreds of moths are attracted to high intensity lights! 

This year I am also leading our annual Earth Day Celebration on April 21.  The event will run from 2:30 PM to 8:00 PM this year, and include crafts, recycled building challenges, games, canoeing, hiking, a screening of The Creature Show on bobcats and salamanders, and an “April pole,” and conclude with a campfire.  No pre-registration required for this program—just stop in at Echo Hill!

Summer is always a fun (and busy!) time at the Parks, as we run a full-scale Summer Nature Program, providing camps for those entering kindergarten through tenth grade.  I enjoy assisting with counselor orientation and advising staff throughout the camp day.  I have been the naturalist at both the Echo Hill and Teetertown camps over the years, but will be at Echo Hill this summer.  I also select the Counselors-in-Training for both locations.  These are students entering tenth grade or older who are willing to volunteer two weeks of their time to lead our campers in nature activities, games, hikes, and crafts.  If this sounds interesting, send me a volunteer application (www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/pdf/parks/VolunteerForm.pdf) and letter of recommendation. 

However, “What do you do in the winter?” is one of my most frequent questions.  There are still some programs in winter!  Some brave souls will bundle up for a winter walk or Maple Sugaring, but we also have indoor programs.  Winter is also when I have time for other tasks, including updating trail maps and brochures, editing the spring edition of the Hunterdon Parks Harbinger, creating new programs, organizing volunteers to monitor bluebird houses, and updating displays at the Arboretum.  Year-round I also answer public questions about wildlife and advertise programs in any way we can think of—flyers, news websites, our monthly email blast, facebook posts, and articles such as this!

Group requestable programs are also a major part of my job.  Some of the programs I offer are Seasonal Nature Walks, Incredible Insects, Birding, Pond/Stream Studies, Reptiles Alive, Nests & Eggs, and a variety of slide show lectures on wildlife, wildflowers, and trees.  For a full listing of our programs, please see our brochure at: www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/parks/brochures/programsforgroups.pdf.  Many of our groups are schools, scouts, and garden clubs, but six or more people can be a group, even family and friends.  Contact me at (908) 782-1158 or lkroon@co.hunterdon.nj.us to set up a program!

Hunterdon County has 29 parks to explore, so I would encourage you to get out and enjoy what our area has to offer! 

 

 

PHYSICAL ADDRESS: Hunterdon County Arboretum, 1020 Highway 31, Lebanon, NJ 08833       MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2900, Flemington, NJ 08822
PHONE: 908-782-1158       EMAIL: parks@co.hunterdon.nj.us

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