Starved Rock Foundation Offers Family Friendly Programs

November 1, 2012

A wildlife DVD series will kick off Starved Rock Foundation’s Saturday family sessions this weekend.

Programs will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fort St. Louis de Illinois Visitor Center in Starved Rock State Park near Utica.

Admission will not be charged, but donations will be accepted. All profits from items sold at the center’s LeRocher Gift Shop will go to providing programs and equipment for the state park.

Additional information about the foundation is available at the desk in the visitor center at or by calling 815-667-5356.

  • “First Snow in the Woods,” an award-winning wildlife series based on the books by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, will be shown at 11 a.m. every Saturday from Nov. 3 through Dec. 29.

This tale with real animal “actors” takes place in a pumpkin patch surrounded by fall colors. A scarecrow watches the animals prepare for winter and learns from a mouse to trust the changing seasons.

  • The series will continue with “Stranger in the Woods,” Saturdays, Jan. 5, through Feb. 23. Viewers will journey into the deep winter woods and meet two snowdrifts, Pierre and Janine. Watch as live video blends with award-winning photography. This story is a magical tale of real animals reacting to a snowman that appears after a winter storm.
  • “Lost in the Woods” will be screened every Saturday from March 3 until April 27. Shirley, an old box turtle, meets a very lost raccoon named Fernando and helps him discover the magic of spring. Live video is combined with photography from the award-winning children’s book of the same title.

Additional 2012-2013 activities will include:

  • “Winter Wonders,” tales told by Starved Rock Storyteller Bill Myers, of Ottawa, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5.
  • Winter Wilderness Weekend will return Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20. Guided hikes will leave the visitor center at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.
  • Saturday, Jan. 26, and Sunday, Jan. 27, Eagle Watch Weekend will return to the visitor center, Starved Rock Lodge and the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center on the north side of the Illinois River. Eagles can be viewed on both sides of the river, and programs will offer closeup looks at raptors.
  • Myers will return Groundhog Day on Saturday, Feb. 2, for a 2 p.m. program about groundhogs as well as about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Saturday, Feb. 8, Jannifer Powelson, of Princeton, will read from her book “Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees,” the story of Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk and their field trip to the forest, where they discover all kinds of tree facts. The program will start at 2 p.m., and Powelson will teach attendees how to identify trees in the winter and will be available to autograph and personalize her books in the gift shop.
  • Visitors can spend an hour with Starved Rock’s own French voyageur “Jean Wilsonette” and learn what is was like and what was needed in the Illinois country in the late 1600s. This program will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
  • Exactly one month later, Myers will return with a 2 p.m. program of Irish tales. He will take visitors to the magical land of rainbows, leprechauns and pots of gold. He might have a story about a bunny as well.
  • Powelson will be back at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 6, to talk about when “Rachel and Sammy Visit the Forest.” This tale can help children learn about 15 common spring woodland wildflowers that can be found in the park.
  • Myers’ “Spring Fever” storytelling session will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 13. His stories will cover everything held dear about spring. After the program is over, guests can go out to the woods and see what is happening.
  • “Native Snakes and Reptiles” will be the topic of a 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, program offered by Mendota’s Jeff Winner, who will share information about these creatures. He will feature native species that can be viewed up close.
  • The annual Wildflower pilgrimage is Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, with guided hikes leaving the visitor center at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Participants can experience the state park with wildflowers popping out at every turn of the trail but are not allowed to be picked.