Let’s Go for a Hike

Let’s Go for a Hike

Blink and you’ll miss it!

Nestled behind the Smithfield Police Department, at 5 Waterview Drive, is a hidden gem of Smithfield, the Leo Bouchard Conservation Center. The center is a collaboration between The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, Smithfield Conservation Commission, Smithfield Land Trust, and Friends of Smithfield Cemeteries, with the shared goal of creating a space that can be used as an educational and recreational center. Nature enthusiasts of all ages can explore walking trails, spot various forms of wildlife, and enjoy beautiful views of the Stillwater Reservoir, both on land and by boat. All while learning about the world around us and the impact we have!

I was able to meet with Amanda Peavey, WRWC’s Education Director, who gave me a tour around the building, and explained a little about what they offer and hope to offer in the future.Over the last couple of years, a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into renovating the educational space and expanding their programs. Walking onto the grounds, you will notice a beautifully hand painted “wingspan” mural adorning the side of the little wooden building, and stumps arranged in a circle, which have been woodworked into stools, perfect for hosting outdoor classes.

Speaking of, last Spring, WRWC partnered with a few Smithfield schools to offer field trips, where students can learn about the importance of the watershed and the impact it, and everyone has on the environment. This year, Woonasquatucket Birds of a Feather: Mindfulness Together program was implemented. This program worked with students in the 3rd grade, to educate on the “wonderful world of Woonasquatucket birds while practicing observation and mindfulness skills. In each lesson, students learn a mindfulness technique and then take flight into learning about the science of birds.” In addition to classes, the WRWC educators offer various workshops such as candle making, kayaking, and canoe rides.

Making your way into the educational center itself, you’ll immediately notice many glass cases, displaying different educational tools, such as skeletal systems, and information about the types of wildlife you might see along your journey. Along the side of the staircase, a hand painted mural of fish leads you up to a cozy reading nook. They also have an incredible microscope available, with slides of many things, including a sample of blue-green algae, which is common to the bodies of water in Smithfield, and the main reason local beaches will shut down during the season. The other side of the room houses an interactive display of different paw prints you might see walking along the trails. All this and more are available for the kids to explore and utilize while they are there.

Over these past few years, and thanks to generous funding, this non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the center is becoming a wonderful place to educate and to escape and unwind. Amanda, among the others part of the team, are so excited for the bright future of this space. I for one am excited to explore the trails for myself and catch a kayak ride. So, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle, bustle of life, and reconnect with nature, pop on down to the Leo Bouchard Conservation Center! You won’t regret it.

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