Celebrate the First Signs of Spring at Oakland County Parks and Recreation

With daylight savings time and the official start of spring just around the corner, it’s time to head outdoors and watch nature awaken from its winter slumber. Hike the more than 80 miles of trails to watch as birds fly back home, get your bicycle out of storage and go for a ride and learn to identify maple trees as maple syrup season gets under way. If you prefer to stay inside, enjoy virtual programming such as Oakland County Farmers Market cooking demonstrations and Discover Michigan Fresh videos, crafting sessions and Fireside Chat historical presentations. Other upcoming events include:

March 5

Morning Munchkins is 10:30-11:30 a.m. March 5 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Bring your preschooler to the nature center for a favorite story and a related hands-on, nature-based discovery activity. This series will be offered the first Friday of each month. The March book is “Water is Water.” Programs may take place outdoors – under a tent or on a trail, so dress for the weather. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent. Masks are available on site if participants do not have their own and staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather, programs will be cancelled. Cost is $4/child. Preregistration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for details.

From March 5-19, participants can pick up a craft kit to make a bird feeder during the Virtual Take and Make program Ecofriends: Bird Feeders with Virtual Instruction. The kit is suitable for ages 8 and older. Cost is $6/kit. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 30 kits available. Preregister by calling 248-858-0916 during business hours and select a location to pick up program kits. Kits will be available from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and Sunday noon-5 p.m. at Red Oaks Nature Center or from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday-Sunday at the Independence Oaks County Park contact station. Live Zoom instruction is 7-9 p.m. March 19.

March 6

Discover Michigan Fresh, a free virtual educational series, will be March 6 with the video shared on the Oakland County Farmers Market’s Facebook page. Experts from Michigan State University Extension – Health & Nutrition will provide growing, handling and preserving tips as well as healthy recipes to help you take advantage of the delicious Michigan-grown bounty from

your backyard or the Oakland County Farmers Market. Call 248-858-5495 or email OCmarket@oakgov.com for more information.

Maple Magic is 3-4 p.m. March 6 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Learn to identify maple trees, take a hike to tap a tree and taste the sap. Learn the tools, tips and methods needed to make your own batch of maple syrup at home. Take home a sweet maple treat and maple-based recipes. Cost is $6/person. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent and are available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Dress for the weather. In case of inclement weather programs will be cancelled. Preregistration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

March 9

Join us on Zoom! Oakland County Parks and Recreation Historian Carol Bacak-Egbo will discuss how a Native American trail turned into a road and stories about the pioneers who settled along what would become Dixie Highway from 10:30-11:30 a.m. March 9. This is a free program. Find the Zoom link at OaklandCountyParks.com. Click on the “Get Involved” tab, scroll to “Events” and click on the flyer link under the March 9 event listing. Call 248-343-6287 for more information.

March 10

Gleaners Community Food Bank is hosting a food distribution event at the Oakland County Farmers Market from 9-11 a.m. March 10 while supplies last. Families and individuals in need of food are encouraged to attend the drive-up or walk-up distribution. Items like milk, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein and other shelf-stable items will be distributed. Stay in your vehicle, and groceries will be placed in your trunk. Walk up guests without vehicles or those without a trunk are welcome to obtain groceries from a self-service table. If walking, please be prepared to carry the groceries or have a cart. You do not need to bring identification or proof of eligibility to receive food. If you wish to pick up for another household, you may do so without their presence in the car. Call 248-858-5495 or email OCmarket@oakgov.com for more information.

March 11

Homeschool Program: Food Webs will be held from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 11 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St. in Madison Heights. Explore the food web by dissecting an owl pellet and learning who has been invited to dinner. Each session is adapted for ages 5-9 and ages 10-17. Preregistration is required; call 248-858-0916 on weekdays during regular business hours as no on-site registration will be available. Sessions are designed as drop-off programs for youth. All students are welcome, whether from a traditional homeschool, pod or virtual learning setting. A release form must be completed with registration. Cost: $10/session. Programs may take place outdoors – under a tent or on a trail. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent. Masks are available on site if participants do not have their own and staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather, programs will be cancelled. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for details.

March 13

Discover cooking secrets from local chefs who will use produce available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors during a free virtual cooking demonstration held in cooperation with edibleWOW. The video, recipe and chef information will be posted on the Oakland County Farmers Market’s Facebook page on March 13. Additional copies of the recipe will be available at the farmers market, 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford, so guests will have the ingredient list while shopping at the market. The chef presenter scheduled for March 13 is Laura Romito from High 5 Salts with Benefits. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.

X Marks the Spot is 2-3:30 p.m. March 13 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Find leprechauns at the nature center while enjoying an afternoon of trickery and treasure hunting. Program includes an outdoor excursion, craft and a snack to take home. Sport St. Patty’s Day green if you wish. Cost is $7/person. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent and are available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Dress for the weather. In case of inclement weather programs will be cancelled. Preregistration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

Maple Magic is 3-4 p.m. March 13 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Learn to identify maple trees, take a hike to tap a tree and taste the sap. Learn the tools, tips and methods needed to make your own batch of maple syrup at home. Take home a sweet maple treat and maple-based recipes. Cost is $6/person. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent and are available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Dress for the weather. In case of inclement weather programs will be cancelled. Preregistration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

March 16

Homeschool Program: Food Webs will be held from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 16 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Explore the food web by dissecting an owl pellet and learning who has been invited to dinner. Each session is adapted for ages 5-9 and ages 10-17. Preregistration is required; call 248-858-0916 on weekdays during regular business hours as no on-site registration will be available. Sessions are designed as drop-off programs for youth. All students are welcome, whether from a traditional homeschool, pod or virtual learning setting. A release form must be completed with registration. Cost: $10/session. Programs may take place outdoors – under a tent or on a trail. Masks are required for programs conducted under the tent. Masks are available on site if participants do not have their own and staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather, programs will be cancelled. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for details.

Walk a different Oakland County Park each month during the TrailBlazer Walking Series. Learn about trails and the parks while getting your steps. This month’s program will be held from 5-6 p.m. March 16 at Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Meet at the Independence Oaks boat house. Many of the animals that live in the woods lead secretive

lives. However, they often leave us clues to what they have been up to with tracks in the snow and mud. Learn to recognize some common animal tracks and how to read the stories that they tell. The TrailBlazer Walking Series is a free program featuring 1-mile informational hikes (trails available for longer hikes). An annual vehicle permit or daily park pass is required for park entry. Call 248-343-6287 for questions and program details. Text to reserve your spot. Practice 6 ft. social distancing. For more information, visit OaklandCountyParks.com.

March 19

Enjoy a free personal, naturalist-guided nature hike during Trail Hikes by Appointment March 19 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Register for time slots at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Participants will learn about seasonal topics while getting some exercise and enjoying the great outdoors. Up to three family groups will be admitted per time slot to accommodate social distancing. Park entry fee applies. Time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is free and suitable for all ages. Masks are encouraged and available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check-in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather programs may be cancelled. Preregistration required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

March 20

Discover Michigan Fresh, a free virtual education series, will be held March 20. A video will be shared on the Oakland County Farmers Market’s Facebook page. Experts from Michigan State University Extension – Health & Nutrition will provide growing, handling and preserving tips as well as healthy recipes to help you take advantage of the delicious Michigan-grown bounty from your backyard or the Oakland County Farmers Market. Call 248-858-5495 or email OCmarket@oakgov.com for more information.

Enjoy a free personal, naturalist-guided nature hike during Trail Hikes by Appointment March 20 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Register for time slots at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Participants will learn about seasonal topics while getting some exercise and enjoying the great outdoors. Up to three family groups will be admitted per time slot to accommodate social distancing. Park entry fee applies. Time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is free and suitable for all ages. Masks are encouraged and available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check-in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather programs may be cancelled. Preregistration required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

March 24

Gleaners Community Food Bank is hosting a food distribution event at the Oakland County Farmers Market from 9-11 a.m. March 24 while supplies last. Families and individuals in need of food are encouraged to attend the drive-up or walk-up distribution. Items like milk, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein and other shelf-stable items will be distributed. Stay in your vehicle, and groceries will be placed in your trunk. Walk up guests without vehicles or those without a trunk are welcome to obtain groceries from a self-service table. If walking, please be prepared to carry the groceries or have a cart. You do not need to bring identification or proof of eligibility

to receive food. If you wish to pick up for another household, you may do so without their presence in the car. Call 248-858-5495 or email OCmarket@oakgov.com for more information.

March 26

Enjoy a personal, naturalist-guided nature hike during Trail Hikes by Appointment March 26 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Register for time slots at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Participants will learn about seasonal topics while getting some exercise and enjoying the great outdoors. Up to three family groups will be admitted per time slot to accommodate social distancing. Time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is free and suitable for all ages. Masks are encouraged and available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check-in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather programs may be cancelled. Preregistration required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

March 27

Discover cooking secrets from local chefs who will use produce available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors during a free virtual cooking demonstration held in cooperation with edibleWOW. The video, recipe and chef information will be posted on the Oakland County Farmers Market’s Facebook page on March 27. Additional copies of the recipe will be available at the farmers market, 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford, so guests will have the ingredient list while shopping at the market. The chef presenters scheduled for March 27 are John Piazza and Jeremy Abbey from Soil 2 Service. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.

Enjoy a personal, naturalist-guided nature hike during Trail Hikes by Appointment March 27 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Register for time slots at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Participants will learn about seasonal topics while getting some exercise and enjoying the great outdoors. Up to three family groups will be admitted per time slot to accommodate social distancing. Time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is free and suitable for all ages. Masks are encouraged and available on site if participants do not have their own. Staff will wear masks. Screening questions and touchless temperature checks are required upon arrival. Check-in at the white tent near the nature center. In case of inclement weather programs may be cancelled. Preregistration required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.