Kids gather around for the Nature Journaling program outside of the library.
[Jada Repress | WOUB]

Nature Journaling program at the library helps children log off and explore the world around them

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ALBANY, Ohio (WOUB) — At the Wells Public Library, children disconnected from the virtual world and plugged into the natural one for an hour.

Naturalist Julie Gee hosted an event called Nature Journaling last Thursday, which allowed kids to decorate their journals and draw or write what they saw at the garden directly behind the library.

“Something that they made with their own hands, decorated in their own way in their own fashion and style that is then theirs that allows them to really take it seriously,” Gee said.

Children write in their nature journals as part of the Athens County library's summer programming.
Children write in their nature journals as part of the Athens County library’s summer programming. [Jada Respress | WOUB]
That seriousness creates an awareness and appreciation of the world around them without the use of a screen. From insects to vegetation it’s all right in front of their faces, and it’s not far from home. 

“I thought it was really cool and I got to see a lot of things, and I got to look at how beautiful the flowers were,” participant Sylvie Venoi said. 

During the program Gee emphasized that this journal belongs to them and only them. It’s up to the children to share their thoughts and drawings. That sense of ownership and privacy is something that isn’t always guaranteed with social media. 

“You could see that kids caught on to that idea right away,” said Rachel Everett, the library’s children’s programmer. “There were some kids that would allow me to take photographs and others that said ‘No I don’t really want you to,’” she said.  

At the end of the program the kids stood in a circle, and shared what they drew with the others if they wanted to.

The children were encouraged to continue their work in their nature journals at home. Gee said the kids can find things around in their homes without looking too far.

Gee has kept a nature journal for over 20 years and said the consistency of documenting the world around them can help people remember relevant memories of what the world was like during a specific time. A memory or idea can stick longer when it is written or drawn and connects to the brain. Nature journaling provides that to children, she said.

Everett participated in the event along with the children. She said she wants to continue her own nature journal.

“There were adults and children who were discovering new trees and flowers and plants and finding out a lot about themselves too in the process,” Everett said. 

The Nature Journaling event was one of many that’s part of the Summer at the Library series from the Athens County Public Library. Everett said the library tries to introduce new events every year and the journaling event might not return for a couple of years.