The chilly temperatures and lack of snow mean outdoor activities aren't plentiful for children right now. But for the nature-loving children or those simply curious, Independence's George Owens Nature Park has a few interesting and colorful options.
The nature park has three young turtles available for viewing, and the park's weekly “Snake Days” go through the end of February. Normal park hours through April are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. George Owens, which is at 1601 S. Speck Road, across the street from Independence's middle school campus, is closed Sunday and Monday. There are additional hours May through September.
Here's what else you need to know:
• The three turtles at the site are the Mississippi map turtle, western painted turtle and red-eared slider. All are semiaquatic and generally less than a foot long. The western painted turtle is the most widespread native turtle in North America.
• The Snake Days are half-hour sessions on Thursday afternoons, from 4 to 4:30 p.m., and are open to all ages with reservations necessary. George Owens has two corn snakes and one great plains rat snake. Participants can feed them, learn how to handle them (neither one is venomous) and learn about how snakes live their lives. The corn snake is one of the most popular pet snake species because of their docile, mild-mannered nature and the ease of care required.
There are two more sessions this month, and four in February.
• If the weather is hospitable enough and you're at George Owens, check out the Snowman Trail, which is on display through the rest of January. The snowmen cutouts were purchased and decorated as a fundraiser for Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity.
– Compiled by Mike Genet