by Joyce Hartmann

About 25 people assembled at the 100-year-old restored cabin at South Fork Nature Center September 20th to learn about bones and skulls they might find in the woods.

Bob Verboon at South Fork Nature Center
Bob Verboon provided dozens of skulls, bones, and mounted animals for those attending his Saturday session at South Fork Nature Center.

Docent Bob Verboon, who is also a Master Naturalist and skilled taxidermist, brought dozens of specimens to provide hands-on learning. After a short time, people were able to identify many skulls, and to know whether it was a predator or prey. They also learned how to age a deer by its teeth, and judge whether the animal was a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore.

Participants tried to match up the skulls displayed on the table with pictures of the animals portrayed on the easel. Everyone found out it was a lot more difficult to do than it looked!

Animal Skulls at the Nature Center

Teaching about Animal Bones
Children enjoyed being able to look closely at skulls to decide what kind of animal they had once been.

Afterwards Docents Janet Miron and Don Culwell led the group on a nature hike on trails around the wooded peninsula. Throughout the morning Docent Kay Verboon demonstrated Dutch oven cooking, making delicious blueberry and peach cobblers that outdoor participants enjoyed after their walk.

Just a reminder…the trails are open to the public for hiking every day, but on the third Saturday of each month, the gate is open for the public to drive to the cabin and enjoy special programs there. Also, educators can schedule special field trips to help studies of ecosystems, habitats, structure and function of plants, abiotic and biotic factors of an ecosystem, environmental adaptions of plants and animals, the natural divisions of Arkansas, or many more areas of nature. Twenty-four docents are available to teach nearly any topic in the outdoor learning laboratory.