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Caudill: A new day is dawning

I am back.

For the numerous people around town who have asked where my “outdoors column” has been, I have an answer. The short answer is I have been in the outdoors. No surprise there, right?

Since I last chatted with you in the pages of The Winchester Sun, two important things happened to me as they relate to the great outdoors and the environment.

The first is I started the certification process to become a master naturalist through the University of Kentucky.

The second is in our fine community some eager and active people and organizations have started an environmental education coalition.

Yes, a new day is dawning, and I want to tell you a bit about these two situations.

Other than the few short years my wife and I attended college before graduation, she from Eastern Kentucky University and myself from University of Kentucky, I have lived my entire life in Winchester and Clark County.

I was raised the son of a hobby farmer and I was allowed much time outside playing while in the process of growing up. That grew into an insatiable desire, maybe even an unhealthy one, to be in the woods.

I spent a large amount of time hiking, hunting and adventuring the hills of Kentucky, especially around Cave Run Lake and in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was all that adventurin’ that gave me a solid understanding of the practical benefits of being in the outdoors.

I got to know a few trees and became fascinated by game and non-game species of wildlife. The way they interact, survive and blend with the environment will never stop amazing me.

What has been missing for me is a more scientific and/or academic understanding of the environment. That is where the master naturalist program came in.

I have been going through the course since the summer and learned a great deal about many wonderful topics — physiographic regions, geology, wildlife biology, woody stem botany, herbaceous botany, water quality, weather and climate, environmental education, citizen science and a whole lot more. So much more that a column of this size could not even come close to doing it justice, which is why I am back.

As I move forward with this column again, I will be sharing with you some of what I have learned — from simple things such as soil is on the ground and dirt is what is on you (the distinction is important) as well as some things that are a bit more profound.

Things such as far western Kentucky used to be beachfront property an incredibly long time ago.

I am excited to be back to share with you the latest things I am certain will be of interest to you.

The second thing I want to tell you about is there is a new group in Clark County in the infant stages of development. Our intent is to do some incredible work within our community as it relates to environmental education. There are representatives from corporate, government and private entities now laying the foundation of this great and important work.

I am thankful to be part of it, and as time and space allow, I will also share with you what is happening with that group. We are currently developing who we are, what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.

Our goal is to help you to have more understanding of the environment that surrounds us all.

Many thanks to my friend Erin Sliney (who is also going through master naturalist certification). She got the “ball rolling” on several initiatives as they relate to environmental education.

It has been an eventful time away from this column these past several months. I am thankful to The Winchester Sun for hosting it and welcoming me back.

I am even more thankful you, the reader, are here. You can be assured I have much more to share, as I dig deeper into all things outdoors.

Thank you for joining me.

I hope to see you soon on, or off, the trail.

Craig Caudill is a lifelong resident of Winchester and serves as director of Nature Reliance School. He is the author of “Extreme Wilderness Survival,” “Ultimate Wilderness Gear” and “Essential Wilderness Navigation.” Contact Craig at info@naturereliance.org or through any of the various social media platforms available.