Atlatl is an odd word.

This ancient spear-throwing tool was used by prehistoric peoples in Iowa to achieve greater velocity when hunting with spears. It’s probably not something you’ve seen, or even heard of, but you can try your hand at using one during Family Nature Night 7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the Dickinson County Nature Center.

Photo of youth throwing spear with atlatl

“I really enjoy atlatl-throwing, and I think the community will enjoy it as well,” said naturalist Ashley Hansen.

Family Nature Night is a free monthly program for all ages, and each month’s program has a different theme. The June event is called “A Walk Through Time” and will take participants through different periods of Iowa’s history.

“Our naturalists have been excited for this event for months,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator. “Family Nature Night has been a great addition to our public program lineup in 2019, and I think this theme will be a fun one to kick off the summer with.”

During “A Walk Through Time,” explore the world of dinosaurs and see how big a tyrannosaurus rex track actually was. Learn about prehistoric mammals and how glacial activity affected the Iowa Great Lakes region.

“People came in because they followed the animals,” Hansen said, so participants will also hear about how Paleo-Indians used atlatls to hunt.

Photo of youth use atlatl

Delve into Native American culture and see arrowheads before talking about European settlement and visiting the Westport Schoolhouse in Kenue Park.

“I’m looking forward to showing people the Westport Schoolhouse,” said environmental education coordinator Bryanna Kuhlman.

Space is limited for Family Nature Night, so pre-registration is necessary. Please call 712-336-6352 to register your family for these fun, free events. Dependent on registration numbers, the June program may be split into two groups, with one group moving forward through time and one group moving backward through time.

The July Family Nature Night will have two sessions at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, July 26. During the July events, families will get to explore the skies inside an inflatable planetarium that will visit the Dickinson County Nature Center.

For more information on Family Nature Night and other Dickinson County Nature Center programs, visit our programs page. You can also keep up on the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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