Story Walking at the North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery

When you visit the North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery in North Attleboro, MA, you might notice something new. Local artist and educator, Nicole Vachon Hanlon, recently partnered literacy and fitness health with being out in nature.

Nicole Vachon Hanlon and a group of volunteers recently installed a couple StoryWalks® at the North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery and Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. StoryWalks® is a fun way to build interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor play. The installations were supported in part by a grant from the Foxboro Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The StoryWalk® project was originally created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellog-Hubbard Library. Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to wooden stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down the trail, you’re directed to the next page in the story. StoryWalks® have been installed in 50 states and 11 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia and Pakistan!

“I was inspired to create this after experiencing the StoryWalk® trail at the Burrell elementary with my children. It was a nature story scavenger hunt. I was planning to install at Moose Hill, and I really love the trail at the fish hatchery, so I thought it would be a great educational experience at the hatchery as well”  said Nicole.

This past July, the hatchery unveiled their StoryWalk® Trout Are Made of Trees by April Sayre with a little help from some friendly visitors to the trail. The story is an ecological spin on “you are what you eat!”  Visitors have two options to read the book, along the woodland trail around the hatchery or at an ADA accessible trail around the fish viewing pool that holds trout and salmon.

Through the creation of a StoryWalk® at the Hatchery, children and adults, can enjoy reading, learning about fish ecology and playing outdoors together!

At the Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, MA, you can stroll along and read She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head by Kathryn Lasky. This is the story of how Mass Audubon first took flight over 120 years ago, and is filled with beautiful illustrations. About halfway through the story, you will have the option to continue to a new trail to finish the story or return to the Visitor Center and relax inside while finishing the book. Either way visitors can enjoy a little time in nature, learn a about Mass Audubon, and explore the sanctuary in a whole new way.

Many libraries and schools that are installing StoryWalks® in their communities and you can too! You can find some tips from Nicole on installing a StoryWalks® on the North Attleboro NFH’s website. See you outside reading soon!

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