Monday, December 31, 2018

Let's Go Kentucky: Get Healthier in the New Year

You don't need a new year to start a new chapter in your family's life, but it is definitely a great time to commit to a healthier future.

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With our devices pulling us into stationary positions we have to be proactive in getting our families moving.  We are our children's first and best teacher and the best way to get healthier is to make it a family initiative. 

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services prescribes 5-2-1-0.

Healthy Number for Kentucky Families

+ Five: Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
+ Two: Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day.
+ One: By physically active at least one hour a day.
+ Zero: Don't drink sweetened beverages.

For those of you who are looking for SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely - goals for the new year that will impact your family's quality of life, this prescription is a great place to start.

I don't know about you, but being physically active for an hour each day is our family's biggest challenge. Squeezing in an hour of physical activity shouldn't be as hard as it is. It is all go, go, go, but not the type of activity that makes us sweat, raises our heart rates or gives us sustained mental relief. But the rewards of making exercise and physical activity a daily priority drastically improves a family's quality of life. Less stress for parents, much-needed quality time with children, and overall better mental health for all.

As adults, we know how important exercise is, but how do we get our children's buy-in?  Sitting down together for a family meeting is a great place to start.  After all, if it is going to be a family initiative, it should involve the voices of the entire family. Try creating a vision board.  They are a way to visualize your goals to be healthier and is a great way to have a dialogue with your children.

Come prepared to your family meeting with ideas.  Kentucky Family Fun has recommended resources for active families.  In addition to walking, riding bikes, playing at the playground, and gardening Kentucky offers many other opportunities for mixing exercise with fun.  Click below and print them out to share with your children.

Let's Go Swimming

Let's Go Play Indoors

Let's Go Camping

Let's Go Hiking

Let's Go Birding

Happy New Year!  And may your family meet their goals for a healthier future.


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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Let's Go Birding Kentucky - Christmas Bird Count

Get outside, count birds and participate in the statewide Christmas bird census.

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Why Go Birding?

It is also time for the annual early-winter statewide bird census.   On December 15, birders and bird enthusiasts across Kentucky participate in an annual statewide census that helps track the health and well being of our environment. You can participate, everyone can! 

The practice of bird watching forces us to slow down and be present with our kiddos. Explore a local trail and see how many birds you can identify together as a part of the statewide early-winter bird count. It is a fun activity that does not require a lot of planning or equipment!

How Do We Get Started?

Before considering where you even go, visit this Nature Conservancy website and print off mnemonic device cheat sheets.  Download the FREE Merlin Bird ID app to listen to their recorded calls ahead of time. You can even encourage your kids to practice their mnemonic devices to the recordings as preparation for your trip.  Take the advice of Audubon and use common birds like the Robin to practice listening for birds before you see them.


Grab a pair (or even better, multiple pairs) of binoculars and head to a local trail.  Monoculars are recommended for children, but they are not necessary.  It is more fun when more than one person can look for a bird at the same time, so bring extras if you can.

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Don’t have binoculars?

Often parks like McConnell Springs in Lexington have binoculars that they will lend to guests. Helpful hint: for less stress and quicker sighting, stick to areas near water. 

Also, check with your local library.  The Jessamine County Public Library provides a birdwatching kits.  It includes a backpack, Celestron NatureDX binoculars, 2 Kidwinz binoculars, a Birds of Kentucky book and a Natural Geographic Kids Bird Guide to North America.

Where To Go Besides Your Backyard?

Eastern Kentucky

December 15, 3-6pm | Winter Craft Day | Count birds then make birdseed ornament to help out the winter birds!

Any Day | Berea College Forestry Outreach Center | Trails behind Berea College

Any Day | Daniel Boone National Forest | Flat Woods Trail

Central Kentucky

December 8, 10am | Winter Birding | Raven Run Nature Sanctuary | Lexington

December 15, 6am-9pm |  Bird Count | Fayette County

December 15, 8-11am | Christmas Bird Count | Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary | Frankfort

December 15, 10am | Naturalist |  McConnell Spring Park | Lexington

December 15, 1-4pm |  Wings: Intro to Bird Identification & JSP Bird Count! | Josephine Sculpture Park | Frankfort

Any Day | Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill | Heritage Trail

Any Day | Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge | Blue Bird Trail | While you are there... visit Danville

For more information about Kentucky’s Birding hotspots visit the Audubon site here. Have more suggestions for our followers or birding events you would like to promote?  Let us know in the comments below.

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