#bioPGH Blog: Instead of Black Friday…Biophilic Friday!
Nov 21

#bioPGH Blog: Instead of Black Friday…Biophilic Friday!

By Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas, Research and Science Education Outreach Manager

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. 

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Thanksgiving—a day of family, food, and gratitude. And yet, while the turkey and mashed potatoes are still digesting, some of us have a wild day ahead of shopping and bustling on Black Friday. One might wonder, though, do we really need more…stuff? Perhaps the best holiday gift we can share with loved ones is an opportunity for togetherness. And what better way to spend time together than in the beauty of nature? So if you’re thinking about changing up your Black Friday routine, here are five nature-themed activities you can do instead of shopping. Let’s make it a Biophilic Friday!

County Parks
North Park, South Park, Boyce Park, Deer Lakes—no matter where you are in Allegheny County, there is a county park not far away. They may not have scheduled programs running for the day, but you don’t need those have fun! There are plenty of games you can play on a hike to mix things up a bit –like Trail Bingo (it’s like Bingo, but your options are different things you might find on hike), make a nature-themed scavenger hunt, try out iNaturalist and document the new organisms you find. Or, if you’re ready to feel a North Pole glow, both of North and South Park ice skating rinks are open for the season.

Full Moon Hike
This Friday will be a full moon, and a number of parks around the area will be offering full moon hikes for adventurous souls, including the Frick Environmental Center at Frick Park and the Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock. Just be sure to bundle up!

Schenley Park
Schenley may be an urban park, but as soon as you step onto its trails, you would never realize that you’re surrounded by the city. Keep your eyes open for little hidden gems—a red-tailed hawk’s nest high in the support beams of the Panther Hollow Bridge or maybe the eastern screech owl that has been spotted near the sports complex!

Biking Day
Don’t let the cooler weather stop you—Pittsburgh has the perfect bike trail for any level of biking, from training wheels and balance bikes to off-road cyclists. If you’re uncomfortable with road cycling, check out the BikePGH website. They have helpful maps and tips for biking around Pittsburgh, and you can easily map out a route that includes trails the entire way. Extra biophilic hint: if you bike the GAP trail between Southside Works and the Waterfront, you will have an unobstructed view of the Hays Woods bald eagle nest now that foliage is down for the season.

Be an Indoor Friend to Nature
If the weather is too wet and dreary for outdoor activities, there are plenty of things you can do indoors as a family to help the outdoor world! The Audubon Society has some great suggestions for making your own suet or birds feeders out of recycled material, or you could plan ahead and start designing your pollinator-friendly garden for the spring. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extra creative and adventurous, work together as a family to produce an informative mini film on an environmental topic, and encourage the kids in the family to do the research and write the script! Create graphics either classically with markers and paper or with free graphic design tools on the web, and simply film it with your smart phone. It can be an exciting and novel way to get the whole family involved in a science-based arts project!

In the end, however you spend your Friday, we know we have the beautiful outdoors to be thankful for, and I hope you have the chance to explore nature sometime in the near future. And on behalf of Phipps Conservatory, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Continuing the Conversation: Share your nature discoveries with our community by posting to Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #bioPGH, and R.S.V.P. to attend our next Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting.

Images: Pexels, CC0