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story.lead_photo.caption What would a naturalist see in this picture taken at Graham Cave State Park? They might spot two different species of mushrooms (the tiny Marasmius capillaris and Galiella rufa), leaves from several different trees and more. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Graham Cave State Park is giving hikers of all ages the opportunity to see what it takes to become a naturalist.

The park will host a Naturalist in the Making Hike on July 20 to give participants a look into a day in the life of a naturalist in the field. The 2-mile hike will take place 9:30-11 a.m. on the Loutre River Trail. The outing is aimed at all ages.

"I wanted to give people an opportunity to find out what a naturalist is and what they do," said Lorie Volenberg, a hike guide who has been a naturalist for two years with the state.

Hike participants will have access to two "discovery backpacks" which feature useful tools for the hike. These tools range from binoculars to hand lenses and various identification tools to help identify wildflowers, ferns, trees, birds and more.

The hike will provide the opportunity to explore a variety of habitats such as bottomland forests, oak and hickory upland forests and limestone glades.

This hike is the first of its kind at Graham Cave and was brought to fruition by Volenberg, who wants to share her passion for naturalism with others.

"I came into becoming a naturalist late in my life, and I had to do a lot of homework and studying, and I just wanted to have this information available to people, either children or adults, that may be interested in the profession," Volenberg explained.

Good hiking shoes are recommended, as some portions of the trail are rocky, along with a water bottle and insect repellent. To RSVP for the hike, call the park office at 573-564-3476.

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