The conservancy's winter hours are in effect: It's closed on Saturdays, and building access is only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays. But the trails are open seven days a week, from dawn until dusk.

"There's still a whole lot of trail use that goes on this time of year," Schumacher Boyd said. "Some days it's almost like spring, with groups of people walking their dogs and bringing their kids out."

'School's Out' days

Several times a month in the winter, the grounds are also flooded with students. The conservancy hosts "School's Out" days, when county students can attend programs — hikes, crafts, nature experiments — on days when there is no school scheduled because of holidays or professional development days.


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Even if there were no programs, the grounds would still be active, as the winter season is when the conservancy holds training sessions for volunteers.

It's also time to complete projects around the grounds, Schumacher Boyd said, whether its building maintenance or work in the gardens or ponds. A grove of chestnut trees is currently being planted and cared for in anticipation of the warmer months.

"It's a lot of work prepping for March, when things really start popping on the grounds," Schumacher Boyd said.

Things were popping already during the talk on snakes and turtles, as Bosmans showed off an albino turtle, baby snapping turtles — two fit in his hand — and an eastern box turtle, all to "oohs" and "aahs" from the kids.

"Now, I brought some snakes, too," he said, and the excitement in the room rose even higher.

As the program ended, Paul Gomez Wick tried to convince his parents that a pet tarantula or pet corn snake would be a good addition to their family.

"I'm OK with snakes," said his mother, Cynthia Wick. "But we already have a cat."