17 WTVO: Education Matters Severson Dells

By Mimi Murphy

Posted: Jun 15, 2016 10:35 PM CDT

ROCKFORD - Connecting people to nature through education, that's the goal of Severson Dells Nature Center.  To accomplish its mission, the center offers many family programs on land and on water.

Abundant green woods, scenic rivers and streams, it's all part of Winnebago County's 42 forest preserves covering some 10,000 acres.  And, it's all right there for the public to enjoy.

"We love to get people outside and as you know, that's not happening as much as it used to," said Don Miller, Director of Education at the center.  "And, I think there's a real connect that's needed for the human psyche to be outside and to learn. Kids know more video game characters than they do  birds and plants. And we try to reverse that trend."

One way to do that is to get people out paddling.  Severson Dells offers canoe trips for adults and families.  Before getting on the water, participants must attend a 20 minute quick start program taught by Severson Dells canoe instructor Rich Toppe.

Toppe, a retired Rockford school teacher, shows how to be a confident paddler, even if you've never been in a canoe.  Before you know it, you're floating down the Kishwaukee River, listening to the sounds of nature.  You never know what you'll see and with terrific guides who can answer questions about river ecology.

Severson Dells offers river trips every Monday for people 10 years of age and up.  They provide the equipment, the guides, and a shuttle.  All you need to do is call to register by the Friday before.

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