Twenty-five pairs of little arms flapped in glee at Piney Run Nature Center as the young "owls" participated in the Owls and Bats story time on Oct. 23.
Presented by the Eldersburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library and Piney Run Nature Center, the story time has proven to be a successful partnership of the two destinations.
"Between the library and Piney Run, what better resources for kids?" said Max Bukowitz, a naturalist, at Piney Run. "We started this last year in the spring and had so much fun."
This is Chris Badeker's fourth time hosting a story time at the Park. The children's library associate plays the ukulele, sings songs and reads books revolving around the month's theme. Participants then enjoy a hike led by Bukowitz and make a craft.
"It's so cool," Badeker said. "I can read them a story... and the owls are here. I can show them right away. They can see it. They can smell it, and they can hear it."
While the park's barred owl remained quiet on its perch, the youngsters – all age 5 or younger – tromped along the paths through the trees and back to the center, where they made owls with leaves and paper plates.
"We love these story times," said Rhonda Hooker, who was helping her 3-year-old daughter, Kensey, create an owl. "They always have wonderful crafts for the kids to enjoy and Mr. Chris is absolutely the best for story time."
Badeker, who hosts numerous story times at the library throughout the week, often sees familiar faces at the Nature Center's story times.
Jennifer Brunson, an assistant naturalist at Piney Run, said she sees familiar faces from other programs the center holds.
"It's always good to get out to the park," Brunson said. "They come in for the story time and can have lunch or go to the playground. They have the opportunity to make it a whole day thing."
Piney Run Nature Center is the Daniel family's favorite destination in Carroll County, according to Karen Daniel, who was at the story time with daughters Sara, 5, and Charlotte, 3. The family enjoys events at several of the county's library branches, and has often been to Badeker's story time in Eldersburg.
"If something is very low cost or free for families, I try to go," Daniel said. "If you don't go to programs, they won't keep offering them. We like doing different things around the county."
As the youth finished up their crafts, many walked around the center to see its collection of snakes and turtles, or to feel a deer skin and antler.
"It's always fun with kids," Bukowitz said. "If there's a smile and a happy face, we've done a good job."
The next Piney Run Nature Center/Carroll County Public Library Fun Story Time is Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. with a Thanksgiving theme.
Call Piney Run Nature Center at 410-795-6043 to register.