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Writing Hike leader Jeff Lacey, left, Tyjae Stovall and Nick Walton take part in the Writing Hike program earlier this summer at Fontenelle Forest.

Through writing and drawing, Fontenelle Forest encourages people to seek inspiration from the wonders of nature.

Fontenelle Forest, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N., offers the Writing Hike program, a hike that invites people of all ages to express themselves through writing and artistic ability.

No matter if it’s sketches in a notebook or words scribbled down on paper, hike leader Jeff Lacey, volunteer educator at the forest as well as a master naturalist and English teacher at Ralston High School, just wants to get people out in nature.

To start the program, Lacey gathers the group, which is anywhere from two to 10 people, and asks them to think about writing.

Participants may write or draw what they please. From poetry about the forest to personal letters written to parents or a close friend, Lacey said there is a wide range of creativity.

“I try to appeal to everybody. You don’t have to write anything about the forest, it’s just the most beautiful office in the world,” Lacey said. “It’s stunning out there.”

The hike, which costs $11 per person, takes place on the forest boardwalk. Every few minutes, Lacey said, he will tell the group to stop and write or draw for 10 minutes before moving onto the next stop.

After writing, participants are welcome to share their work with the group or talk about what they wrote. However, it’s not a requirement.

“I’m not your teacher,” he said. “I’m just here to help.”

Writing Hike, which takes place about every three months, usually lasts about an hour and a half, depending on the group.

While it is called “Writers Hike,” everyone is welcome, Lacey said.

“Some people aren’t writers, and that’s OK,” he said.

In addition to sparking creativity, Lacey said he also hopes to pull people away from phone, computer and television screens.

Lacey said he remembers a professor of his saying that technology takes time away from other aspects of life while nature does the opposite.

“It’s true,” he said. “It gives you time back.”

Through the Writing Hike program, Lacey wants to unite people with nature.

“It’s the mission of the forest, which is to drive people closer to nature and deepen their relationship and connection,” he said. “This is another way they can do that.”

To view upcoming hikes, or to apply to be a Fontenelle Forest volunteer, visit fontenelleforest.org.

Email: ashley.quintela@bellevueleader.com Phone: 402-537-4849

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