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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Exploring the outdoors: A to Z Scavenger Hunt encourages families to get outside

 (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review)

Baby, it’s cold outside. So throw on some layers and get ready to explore.

To encourage families to do just that, The Spokesman-Review and Dishman Hills Conservancy are hosting an A to Z Scavenger Hunt.

“Going outside gives us exercise, enjoyment and connection to the real world,” said Jeff Lambert, executive director of the Dishman Hills Conservancy.

Even if the weather is lousy, you can still get out as long as you wear the right clothes, he said.

And, during the pandemic, “going outside is about the safest thing that you can do when it comes to dodging an infection,” he said.

It’s even something you can do with friends as long as you maintain distance and/or wear a mask.

To participate in the scavenger hunt, keep track of something you see or do outside that represents each letter of the alphabet over the next two months.

It could be an animal, plant or rock; an action (hiking, sledding or viewing); a color; a place; or a shape.

To get a little extra encouragement, register with the Dishman Hills’ Nature Explorer program, which is sponsored by the Morning Star Foundation.

Participants will receive hints of ways to explore and finish their scavenger hunt.

As you’re working on your list, send photos of the things you find to along with information about what’s in the picture and where it was taken.

Some of the photos will run in the Family section on Mondays. You can also post photos to the Dishman Hills Conservancy’s Facebook page.

Participants have until Feb. 28 to complete the scavenger hunt.

When you’re finished, submit your answers by email to; by mail to Kimberly Lusk, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane WA 99210-2160; or drop them off at the newspaper’s front desk downtown at 999 W. Riverside Ave.

Make sure to include your name and address so we can send you a certificate and a patch for finishing.

Some letters, like X and Z, might take a little extra imagination. Perhaps you can find animals tracks that cross over each other in the shape of an X.

Or, you can eXplore.

And that’s the whole point, to explore the natural world – in your backyard, your neighborhood or one of the nearby natural areas.

“If you’re doing it outside, you’re doing it right,” Lambert said.

A to Z Scavenger Hunt

Here are some ideas to get you started compiled by Alan McCoy of the Spokane Chapter of the Audubon Society; George Stratman, Susan Stratman and Stan Miller of the Dishman Hills Conservancy Education Committee; and yours truly.

A: Aspen, alder, arboretum, acorn

B: Basalt rock, birch tree, berries, bark

C: Chestnut, cedar waxwing, cattails, clouds, chickadee, climb, Centennial Trail

D: Duck, dogwood, Douglas fir, dam, Dishman Hills, Drumheller Springs

E: Evergreen, elm, eagle

F: Fir tree, fish, frozen, feather, frost, finch, fur

G: Granite, gneiss, goose, grass, ground

H: Holly, hike, heron, Higgins Point

I: Ice, icicle, insect, ivy, Iller Creek

J: Jupiter, juniper, jump

K: Kestrel, knot, Kaniksu National Forest

L: Leaf, lilac bush, lichen, land, look

M: Maple, mountain ash, moss, meadow, mourning dove, moose, marmot, mushroom

N: Needle, nest, northern flicker

O: Oak, Oregon grape, organism, osprey

P: Pine cone, pond, ponderosa pine, Palouse, pegmatite rock, planet

Q: Quail, quartz, quiet, quick, Q’emiln Park

R: Rock wall, river, red-tailed hawk, robin, rabbit, ridge, Riverside State Park, roots

S: Squirrel, snowberry bush, snail, snake, sled, ski, snow, Saturn, sparrow

T: Turkey, trail, tracks, twig, Tubbs Hill

U: Underhill Park, under, universe

V: Vinca, varied thrush, vista, valley

W: Weeping willow, wild rose, woodpecker, wind, wander, white-tailed deer, waterfall

X: Xylem, X marks the spot, X-shaped marks from cross-country skies going uphill

Y: Yellow, yodel, Y in the trail

Z: Zoo (former zoo sites at Manito and Mirabeau parks), zoom, zigzag