On a 187-acre parcel of Gunpowder Falls State Park sits Graham Equestrian Center, a horse haven named one of the region's best places for horseback riding by CBS Baltimore. Here, trainers specialize in all facets of equine education, teaching students how to handle and ride horses in a way that's both safe and fun. Visitors can put these lessons to use in a number of settings; the center features access to many miles of tree-lined trails, as well as a large outdoor arena and training pen.
The Marshy Point Nature Center is enshrouded in nearly 3,000 acres of natural terrain from the combined Marshy Point Park and neighboring federal land. In this emerald oasis, a variety of wildlife including Barred Owls, Bald Eagles, and Red Fox make their home amongst the three miles of wooded trails and ponds. Hikers and birdwatchers can gather to see these creatures in their natural habitats or take a canoe out to the middle of the Dundee Creek and practice walking back to shore. Throughout the year, the Marshy Point Nature Center also runs activities including a spring festival with a muddy obstacle course and the Popsicle Plunge, which immerses swimmers into the Chesapeake Bay for the sake of charity or really sweaty tendencies.
Hoping to instill a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature, EcoAdventures offers a variety of enriching programs to educate curious kids. With a number of themes to engage children in interests that range from sharks and bugs to hiking through nature and digging for fossils, programs are offered alongside weekly parent-children classes, drop-ins, and even birthday parties. With a staff of highly educated specialists ranging from marine biologists to biomedical engineers, the instructors work closely with kids to share their own knowledge, experience, and stories of being in the field with crocodiles and sharks.
Master falconer and bird-of-prey expert Mike Dupuy shares his love of the 4,000-year-old sport of falconry during exciting and informative demonstrations with his avian costars. A professional public speaker, Mike entertains his audiences with personal anecdotes and motivational speeches that use falconry as a metaphor to encourage them to follow their dreams. Guests also get to learn about each feathered raptor while it surveys the crowd for wild Energizer bunnies, and Mike encourages audience interaction by inviting volunteers from the audience to hold the hawk and try in vain to teach it to bark like a dog.
In 1964, Bob and Coni Keyes decided to transform their 80-acre hog farm in Waterford, Wisconsin into something brand new: a pick-your-own vegetables and raspberry farm. Inspired by their own 13 children, they decided to gear the experience toward families and kids. It wasn't long before the operation expanded to include interactions with their animals, and the farm became a destination where children could come to experience agriculture and farm life. Eventually the Keyes' children grew up and left the nest, but that they didn't necessarily leave the family business. Instead, many decided to start their own petting farms in their new towns—which is how Green Meadows started in Ijamsville.
Today, farmers there take visiting kids on fun, exploratory hay rides tied to a game of I Spy in which riders look for specific things hidden in the surrounding fields. Afterward, they head to the baby animal barn to cuddle with the farm's youngest fuzzy residents. Other attractions include plastic duck races and a new slide made from a combine. The team also encourages visitors to try milking a cow and feeding the animals.