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Wildcat Weekends Series Puts Focus on the Outdoors

Many fun and educational nature activities are scheduled at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering in the coming months. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)
Many fun and educational nature activities are scheduled at the scenic Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering in the coming months. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering is encouraging outdoor lovers to mark their calendars for its Wildcat Weekends series of events scheduled each month from May through December.

The series will kick off Saturday, May 16, with Wildcat Hills Wildlands Day, highlighted by an 8k fun run, children’s crafts and hikes to observe birds, wildflowers and bighorn sheep. Because the event coincides with Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, no Nebraska State Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles entering the center.

“We are excited to offer another fun and educational series of events for people of all ages,” said Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist. “From outdoor cooking, to wildlife presentations, to photography and crafts, we’re excited to help participants bolster their appreciation for nature and outdoor activities.”

All events will begin at the Nature Center eight miles south of Gering and will last no more than a few hours. Note that some events include hikes over rough terrain, so participants are asked to bring drinking water and wear suitable footwear and clothing. Unless otherwise noted, the events are free. A park entry permit, which may be purchased at outdoornebraska.org, will be required for vehicles during all but the May 16 event.

Other scheduled Wildcat Weekends events (All times Mountain):

Photographer’s Workshop, June 6, 5:30 p.m.: Bring your camera and join a NEBRASKAland magazine photographer as he presents tips and techniques for nature photography. Space is limited, so register by calling the center at 308-436-3777 by June 1.

Bighorn Sheep Hike, July 11, 9 a.m.: Join Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff members on a hike in the Wildcat Hills to see and learn about this charismatic species that has been reintroduced to western Nebraska.

Dutch Oven Cooking, Aug. 8, 9 a.m.: Learn to prepare and enjoy a brunch made with this traditional cooking method known for its simplicity and tasty results. A minimum number of participants is required, along with $5 per person to cover cost of supplies, so register early by calling 308-436-3777.

Feathered Friends, Sept. 12, 9 a.m.: Observe and learn about the avian species of the Wildcat Hills region, renowned for its birding opportunities.

Howl in the Hills Night Hike, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.: Bring your flashlight and learn about the many “creatures of the night” that many take for granted. Register by calling 308-436-3777 by Oct .2.

Oh Deer, Nov. 7, 9 a.m.: During this wildlife presentation attendees will learn about the many fascinating characteristics of mule deer and whitetails, including their habitat needs and adaptations.

Nature’s Gifts: Decorations from the Outdoors, Dec. 13, 9 a.m.: Just in time for the holidays, participants will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while creating garland feeders, bird feeders and nature ornaments to decorate their homes and the Nature Center. Register by calling 308-436-3777.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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