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Nature Backpacks

A partnership between the Library of Virginia, Virginia State Parks and the Science Museum of Virginia provides 135 libraries with four nature backpacks each. Available to check out, the backpacks help families learn about nature in their backyard, in a local park, or at one of Virginia's 36 state parks.

"Today children spend less time outdoors and even less immersed in nature-based activities," said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. "These backpacks will provide opportunities for families to venture out to a park."

Each backpack comes with a parking pass that allows the library customer to visit any Virginia State Park at no cost. Backpacks also feature: pocket guides to bugs and slugs, animal tracks, Virginia birds, mammals, and Virginia trees and wildflowers; a port-a-bug field observation container; a Big Foot Leave No Trace Ethics Card; a magnifying lens; a dip net; and laminated sheets with suggested activities designed by both Virginia State Parks and the Science Museum of Virginia.

"How I wish there had been a resource such as this when my daughter was young," Librarian of Virginia Sandra Treadway said. "The Library of Virginia is delighted to help make these backpacks available to Virginia families through community-based public libraries across the Commonwealth."

The Science Museum of Virginia developed a short survey that patrons will complete to help evaluate the program. The museum also coordinated assembling the backpacks with the help of 20 volunteers.

This project is made possible with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and through generous in-kind contributions from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Science Museum of Viginia.

Check the map to find participating libraries and nearby state parks.