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Itasca program introduces kids to nature's wonders

Caitlyn Stute, 4, of Laporte, presses her paper over a painted fish to make an artistic impression. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 3
Ben Frauenholtz, 3, of Bemidji, is a study in intensity as he colors a fish. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 3
Treyton Browden, 2, of Bagley, gathers his daily limit of plush fish into his lap during storytime. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)3 / 3

Fish have fins and they're flippy and floppy. And the furry ones are the best.

It's OK for moms and grandpas to come into the fish house if it's too dark and scary for the pacifier set.

Icicles aren't to be used as swords, tempting as it might be.

And what do you catch in the fish house?

"Walleye!" was the universal answer.

Itasca State Park's bi-weekly program for kids 5 and under focused Thursday on fish and the wonders of ice. And ice fishing.

Kids huddled in a portable icehouse and listened to fish tales read by naturalist Sandra Lichter.

Nine-month-old intrepid baby August Jensen of Shevlin, already mobile but a bit wobbly, wondered loudly why he couldn't dabble in the paints and paint markers. They looked so fun.

Mom Jen Kellen, no doubt envisioning a snowsuit full of paint and an ice cube down the throat, patiently pulled August away from the trouble spots. He had to play on the carpeted floor.

Those fuzzy fish were plush fish toys. Treyton Browden, 2, tried to hoard and hug all of them until grandpa Lynn Ferrie reminded him he had to share. Ferrie and his wife bring Treyton and brother Cameron, 4, to Itasca for the education, the fun and the camaraderie. They come from Bagley.

After learning about ice, how it's formed and what lives under it, it was time to paint rubbery fish to make artistic impressions.

Paint mess notwithstanding, they were truly works of art.

Then little fingers got to use ice cubes to blend the watercolors, making abstract masterpieces that will adorn many a refrigerator, or be featured in a scrapbook.

JoAnn Stute brought daughter Caitlyn, who squealed in delight when she carefully lifted her paper off a yellow painted fish. Voila! Instant art.

"Last time I brought my niece and a friend," JoAnn said, double-checking the kids to remind her who she'd brought Thursday. "I have a van so I figure why not fill it up?" she laughed.

The programs will continue through the winter, with the next kids program is Feb. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

The subject: snow.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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