COLUMBUS -- The summer is in full swing, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) offers free and fun events throughout July. Slow down this summer and create some outdoor memories while enjoying a variety of family-friendly activities at any of Ohio's 74 state parks.
■ Fireworks Extravaganza at Hueston Woods State Park -- Continue the fun of the Fourth of July with all day entertainment and fun on Wednesday, July 5, with fireworks shortly after dark.
■ Hungry Hummers at Lake Hope State Park -- Help hand feed ruby-throated hummingbirds from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, at Lake Hope State Park. Meet at the nature center. For questions, call 740-596-3030.
■ Wild Edible Walk at Shawnee State Park -- People can munch their way through the campground with the naturalist on July 7 and 21 at 8 a.m. Meet at the amphitheater.
■ Pollinator Garden Tour at West Branch State Park -- We will learn about native wildflowers, prairies, butterflies, nature photography, insect catching with bug nets and more as we explore the new pollinator garden on Friday, July 7, from 2-3 p.m. The naturalist will bring some nets and collection jars. Meet outside the camp store for a short walk to the garden, which is located at the campground disc golf course entrance.
■ Trail Trek at Shawnee State Park -- Treasure the trees, have fun in the flowers and blast off with the birds along a beautiful trail with the naturalist at 9 a.m. on July 8, 15 and 22. Meet at the nature center. Wear long pants and comfortable hiking shoes.
■ Pontoon Lake Tours at Burr Oak State Park -- Enjoy Burr Oak Lake from the comfort of a pontoon boat while the naturalist points out items of interest, including wildlife at 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Tours will be offered at those times on July 7 and 14. Advance registration is required by calling 740-767-3570 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio State Parks, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.
Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The new Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process. Participants can log their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio. After reaching 100 combined miles of activity on the site, each registered user will receive an email with a certificate good for 15 percent off camping at any Ohio State Park.