If you are feeling stress and anxiety from the new way of living under the pandemic, Vickie Robertson, a University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist, says now is the time to get outside and walk some of your local trails and pathways, to “enjoy nature and check out the living things below, above and all around you.”

Each year people across the country unite on the first Saturday of June in celebration of the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. Local Master Naturalists have been hosting this event since 2012 with partners at Sugar Grove Nature Center. Although they will not be gathering in person this year, members of the group invite the public to explore local trails.

Master Naturalists are a group of volunteers who are committed to learning about and preserving the natural world for future generations, right here in Central Illinois. With over 100 volunteers in the group, they serve as stewards of many local trails and natural spaces by clearing invasive species and maintaining trail safety, and are devoted to sharing their knowledge of nature and environment with all ages.

Robertson says you are likely to find redheaded woodpeckers pounding trees in the forest. If you pull up fallen leaves and debris, you will find insects and interesting mushrooms. She encourages hikers to take photos and try to learn more about what you find.

To show your support, commit to the American Hiking Society’s #NationalTrailsDay Pledge, taking at least one action in 2020 to preserve trails and fight for equitable access to quality green space.

For more information about the Illinois Grand Prairie chapter of the Master Naturalist program, please visit online at go.illinois.edu/IGPMN and be sure to visit them on Facebook to share your pictures. Find them by searching Illinois Grand Prairie Master Naturalists in pages.