Purpose: To provide a short program emphasizing safety, enjoyment, and skill acquisition for entry level animal tracking.

Prerequisites: None
Course Duration: Minimum of 2 hours, though optimal time is 3+ hours
Venue: Holyoke Parks

Course Content
The following is a summary of course content for the NLA Nature Interpretation program. The content and sequence of instruction will be arranged to fit students’ needs, program location, and time allowances.

Introduction and Logistics (10 minutes)
Introduction of instructors and participants
Course overview with expectations, limitations, and time frame
Site specifics: sequence, regrouping, toilet facilities, and alternate possibilities

Personal Preparation (5 minutes)
Personal behavior:
Personal space, property
Etiquette (Leave No Trace)
Safety - Cold (clothing check)

Team Building (30 minutes)
Short, fun activities/games that set the foundation for the subsequent program:
“My neighbor and I’” (this game is similar to musical chairs, and will focus on participants’ familiarity with the different species native to these woods.)
Descriptive “animal game.”
These activities will introduce key concepts while building familiarity and trust within the group.

Getting Started (45 minutes)
Begin group hike
Identify types of wilderness settings and corresponding wildlife found in each:

Suburban Wilderness – abandoned areas
  1. Voles, white-footed mouse, long-tailed weasel, red fox, opossum
Urban Wilderness
  1. Gray squirrel, Norway rat, house mouse, house sparrow, pigeon, feral dog, feral cat
The country – Transition areas, Forests
  1. Coyote, white-tailed deer, striped skunk, red squirrel, eastern cottontail, muskrat, porcupine, red-tailed hawk
  1. Where to find tracks
  2. How to tell tracks
  3. Signs

Group Tracking (1 hour 15 minutes)
Each participant will be given the opportunity to lead the group
Each leader will attempt to discover a new track
The group will attempt to identify the animal
The group will follow each set of tracks to the best of their ability
Staff will provide constant supervision and assistance

Conclusion (15 minutes)
Return to Base
Collect equipment
Course review