The speaker at the January31 meeting of the New Carlisle Rotary Club was Leann Castillo, Director of National Trails Parks & Recreation District. She spoke about the many features NTPRD has to offer the community.

The days are getting longer, and Clark County’s National Trails Parks and Recreation District (NTPRD) is getting ready for warmer weather by offering plenty of springtime activities so everyone can find their place in both the sun and on the ice.

The NTPRD’s Chiller Ice Arena in downtown Springfield will get a jump on spring with youth and adult skating programs in March; starting with the Cardboard Classic Bobsled Races taking place on March 4. Sleds must be made of only cardboard, tape, glue, wax, paint, and lacquer. The bottoms of all sleds must be covered in hockey or packing tape. Bobsledders should register at the Chiller on the day of the event between 1-2 pm. Racing begins at 2 pm. Prizes will be awarded to race winners and to the most creative design and the best design.

The Chiller will also offer hockey and skating lessons in March, as well as an introductory “Theater on Ice” program for skaters of all ages and skating skills. The registration deadline for all skating programs is March 13.

Warmer weather means NTPRD’s athletic leagues for both youth and adults will be gearing up soon.

NTPRD Executive Director, Leann Castillo, says more than 3,500 children participate in the park district’s youth sports programs each year. She explains that volunteer involvement from coaches, parents, and the community is why so many children are able to participate in the youth athletic leagues, especially its soccer league.

Each year nearly 1,500 kids participate in NTPRD’s soccer program, which is held in the spring and fall at the Eagle City Soccer Complex. Soccer is offered to children from preschool through eighth grade. The spring registration deadline for kids K-8 grade is Feb. 24, and registration for children ages 4-5 is March 3. Both programs cost $35 and uniform shirts are provided.

Adults can play too and have several athletic leagues to choose from. Registrations for adult leagues begin in March and fees vary by sport. Castillo says the most popular sport is softball, but the park district’s adult tennis, soccer, and its newer kickball league also have a loyal following.

Castillo says the co-ed adult kickball league is newer and appeals to young adults by providing a chance for them to hang out with friends and “relive their youth.” A shortened season means the time commitment is minimal too. “Many people today are involved in a number of activities, and (devote) a lot of time to their families and careers,” explains Castillo. Teams must register by April 13.

In its goal to encourage fitness, NTPRD encourages individuals to take advantage of programs such as Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi, as well as its many organized hiking and biking opportunities.

Young children are not left out in the cold when it comes to NTPRD activities. Several programs and special educational events are geared towards young children, including free “Read with the Trees” events for children (ages 4-7) that begin in March. Other programs for young children are also available, some for a nominal fee.

Castillo says such early childhood programming is important to the NTPRD, “Parks and recreation programming for children (helps keep) them active and promotes healthy child development. It allows (children) to explore nature and the world around them. These programs help to increase their self-esteem and confidence by interacting with many different children with diverse backgrounds.”

Nature education for all ages is available. Educators and volunteers are invited to learn about protecting the monarch butterfly at NTPRD’s first-ever “Pollinator Workshop” on March 11 (registration ends March 6). Castillo says the event will explain the monarch butterfly’s life cycle, the importance of protecting the species, and show how to attract them to the backyard.

Special events are peppered throughout NTPRD’s spring and summer calendar; including movie nights, evening nature activities, summer youth summer camps, and citizen science opportunities

The NTPRD also encourages families to mark their calendars for the third annual Monarch Butterfly Festival on August 26 at Buck Creek Nature Park. Castillo says the extremely popular event can attract between 2,000-3,000 visitors and includes music, food, craft vendors, children’s activities, and information about butterflies and nature.

Many more warm-weather activities are available through the National Trail Parks and Recreation District. For more information about programs, activities, and registration fees, visit ntprd.org or call 937-328-7275.

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