A group of young naturalists got a close-up look Thursday at animals they might find in their own Farmington-area backyards.
Nancy Sloan of the Howell Nature Center brought a mini-menagerie to the Nature Discovery Center in Heritage Park to close out a summer program offered with support from the Farmington-Farmington Hills Optimist Club. Sloan showed a ferret, a flying squirrel, a peregrine falcon, a box turtle, a possum named Olive and Circe, a 25-year-old great horned owl.
The 15 children who participated in the 6-week program each received a backpack that contained items including a pair of binoculars and a compass, which they used in the park during the summer.
"I liked learning how to use the compass," said nine-year-old Eric Rodwell. He and the others were given directions and had to find their way through a challenge course. "It was pretty neat," he added.
The Optimists covered the cost of the backpacks, as well as the Thursday program and pizza dinner.
The Nature Center also offers a Junior Naturalist program during the school year, starting in September. Topics include wilderness survival, preparing for winter, rocks and fossils, animal tracking and more. To register, visit the Costick Center or sign up online at https://recreg.fhgov.com.