The Solvang Wildling Museum organizes a free family day

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Families enjoyed their Sunday afternoon painting, making collages and browsing the artwork during the Solvang Wildling Museum’s second Free Family Day.

“They love it. And that’s important because we want them to appreciate nature and the world and give back to it in the same way,” said Ryan Warner, who came from Carpenteria

Nature lovers like Lauren Sharp have fond memories of being outdoors.

“Being a kid and my parents taking me to all of our national parks and state parks. So I think it’s just something I’ve learned to appreciate over the years,” said Sharp, who is the museum’s deputy director.

Now Lauren has found a job that combines her love of wildlife with her passion for art.

“Teaching about environmental and conservation issues through art is a great gateway to showing people the world around them,” said Sharp.

Children immersed themselves in arts and crafts, painting rocks and creating collages centered around wildlife and nature conservation.

“We want to show them that nature is everywhere and it can be in your own backyard. It doesn’t have to be so far from home. And we’re so lucky in Santa Barbara County to have nature around us everywhere,” Sharp said.

The families also explored environmental issues like climate change through the “Fire and Ice” exhibit.

“The earlier they learn, the more they care, the more they take care of our environment. So I think it’s very important to reach out to children and inspire them as much as we are here,” said Museum Executive Director Stacey Otte-Tenmangate.

The next Free Family Day will take place in the winter with special exhibits scattered throughout the year.