By RUTH ANN INGRAHAM, guest columnist

The Brown County Democrat’s “Out There” section is a shout-out to what we love to do outdoors. To walk or bike a wooded trail. To watch a box turtle make its determined way across leaf litter. To listen to migrating warblers in springtime.

All these activities and many more are made enjoyable by the environment of Brown County’s undulating, tree-blanketed hills. And that green landscape is made possible by the tiny world beneath the surface of the soil seen only through a magnifying lens.

You will learn more about both worlds — from giant trees to microbes — at Nature Daze 2016. This free, family event is Saturday, Sept. 10 at CYO Camp Rancho Framasa, Clay Lick Road. Activities run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include a free noon lunch.

Nature Daze 2016 is sponsored by the Brown County Native Woodlands Project for the 10th consecutive year.

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Learn about our southern Indiana region, how to care for wildlife and how to be good stewards of our land with the help of Nature Daze 2016’s stellar lineup. Presentations and field trips will feature outstanding experts in a variety of fields.

The layered landscape

“The ‘Painted’ Hills: A Naturalist’s Field Guide” is the focus of Mike Homoya’s presentation. Homoya has spent 34 years as botanist and plant ecologist with the Indiana Division of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves. He will provide a fresh look at the leafy layers of our woodlands with his acclaimed mixture of knowledge and Hoosier humor.

Caring is for the birds

Sharon Sorenson, renowned author and speaker, knows what it takes to attract birds to her southern Indiana garden. Her timely PowerPoint presentation, “Your Own Refueling Station for Migratory Birds,” will teach us how to provide a quick energy boost for birds in our own gardens.

Saving native plants

Dawn Slack preaches that we can each make a difference in the natural world. What is an invasive plant? What are the characteristics of ones most commonly found in Brown County? How can we foster the growth of native plants? Slack, wildlife science supervisor for the Indiana Division of Natural Resources, will answer these questions and more through her talk, “Saving Wild.”

The soil under our feet

Cara Bergschneider “digs” dirt. She’s a soil conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bloomington and a soil scientist by training. “Invasives, Above and Below” is about how the soil influences which invasive species grow in our area, how they change the soil over time and what difference it makes.

Visiting the Frog Ranch

Geoff Keller returned to Indiana from Oregon after years of recording bird calls and songs, a huge number of which are heard online at Cornell’s “All About Birds.” Geoff invites Nature Daze participants to visit the environmentally friendly habitat he created at his home here in Brown County.

Fun for the children

Getting kids outdoors is a common topic among those of us who remember spending hours outside every day. As part of Nature Daze, children can participate in enticing activities planned for them by CYO Camp Rancho Framasa staff. They will explore the awesome world of animals and their many adaptations, learn how to discover what animals live in an area by their tracks and scat, and cool off in the afternoon with the ever-popular Creek Hike.

Native plants, grown from seed by EcoLogic in Bloomington, will be sold. All attendees will be entered for prize drawings. And don’t forget the free lunch prepared by the camp’s kitchen staff.

Although Nature Daze is free, please register at or call 812-988-2211 so we will know how much food to prepare.

See you there!