NCWF’s Family Guide to Enjoying Nature Close to Home


Nature can heal, soothe, restore and connect us to the Earth, each other and our communities. Nature also improves our mood and calms overactive minds. “Look deep into nature,” Albert Einstein said, “and then you will understand everything better.” 

During the Coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented shift in our daily lives, many of us have some extra time to explore the natural world. While quarantining and practicing social distancing, adults and kids are hitting the pause button on technology and taking a breather outside. Or, they’re using technology to plug in to ways they can become better wildlife and nature stewards.

Explore, Discover, Learn and Engage with Wildlife

Here are 15 ways families can have fun, explore, discover, learn and engage with wildlife and nature while sticking close to home:

  1. Watch our favorite osprey couple and internet darlings, Reuben and Cherise, tend to their nest and get ready for hatchlings on the NCWF Osprey Live Stream Nest Cam.
  2. Go on a Scavenger Hunt in your yard, nearby woods or other natural places.
  3. Create a pollinator pitstop in your yard and register it at no cost as part of the Butterfly Highway or create a garden for wildlife. Habitats must include food, water, shelter and places to raise young to fully support wildlife.
  4. Tackle the tidal wave of plastic pollution by supporting efforts to reduce single-use plastic and packaging. Look up your representatives and write them a letter in support of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and other legislation that impacts wildlife. You can also participate in the NCWF Trees4Trash Neighborhood Challenge by picking up trash on your daily walks!
  5. Find another use for plastic containers by turning a milk or juice carton into a bird feeder. You can also build your own bird feeders using apples, birdseed and peanut butter.
  6. Contribute to the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project by tracking birds in North Carolina and across the country through eBird.
  7. Make your own plantable paper using the Butterfly Highway pollinator native seed mix. Turn the paper into cards and send them to friends and family to say hello and share some seed love.
  8. Explore your yard and collect reeds, bamboo stalks, scrap wood and other materials, then use them to build shelters for native bees. You can also attract beneficial insects to your yard by building a bug hotel and filled with pollinator-friendly materials.
  9. Look for nests or nest boxes in the trees and shrubs. Remember to keep pets indoors or away from nesting areas.
  10. Reach out to Ranger Rick. Through the end of June, the National Wildlife Federation is offering free access to the Ranger Rick digital magazine and their outdoor activities list. All you need is an email address to learn how to make a nest or fairy house, spy on squirrels, go on an egg hunt or prowl for owls.
  11. Grab a pole and go fishing! Be sure to visit the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website to find out where to boat, where to fish, and to check on current closures. 
  12. Safely roll a log over and explore the FBI decomposers: fungus, bacteria and invertebrates. Remember, when turning over a log, roll it towards you and be sure to roll it back the way you found it.
  13. Pull some weeds or invasive plants and check out their root systems, which help the plant get water and nutrients from the soil. Tip: Weeds and invasive plants are easier to pull when the ground is wet.
  14. Grab an empty box and collect some dirt, leaves, grass and soil to create a critter playground.
  15. Learn about how animals camouflage themselves to better blend into their environment and hide from predators. 


We love to see families outside enjoying the great outdoors and your discoveries in nature, so please share your wildlife and nature photos with us! Tag us on Facebook (@NCWildlifeFederation) or Instagram (@ncwildlifefed), or email them to

Want to help inspire the next generation of wildlife and nature stewards? Give kids a chance to connect with and discover the natural world by donating to NCWF’s Great Outdoors University

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