A group of people holding masks in front of a river.

Bring Nature Home: ART of Hiking #4


You have the opportunity to be part of our Urban Junior Naturalists program from your own home. Today’s blogpost by Paulina Mohamed-Ocasio, Director of Youth Internships, brings the activities directly to you.

It’s that time of year again….where the colors of nature come alive! Urban Junior Naturalists will hike along the John Kerian trail soaking up the sights and sounds of fall – like the bright yellow leaves on the ash trees and the crunching and rustling of leaves beneath our boots on the path. Our hike will take us to Van Cortlandt Park’s tree-lined Parade Grounds where Urban Junior Naturalists will take out their canvases, watercolor paints and brushes, and do their best to capture the colorful hues and highlights of autumn leaves. 

Why do leaves change color? 

Did you know that chlorophyll makes leaves green? It absorbs sunlight and water to feed trees glucose. As the days get shorter and sunlight decreases the leaves slow down their production of chlorophyll, resulting in the loss of color, thereby exposing each leaf’s yellow and orange pigments. For some trees like the sugar and red maples, sugars get trapped in the leaves causing the brilliant reds! 

Try it at home?

Now, gather your canvas or sketch pad along with your watercolor paints and brushes, a cup of water and a thermos filled with hot cocoa. Now hike out to your favorite picturesque spot and start painting. Don’t be afraid to blend colors and blur the lines! 


  1. Canvas or thick paper 
  2. Watercolor paints or color pencils and brushes
  3. Water to clean out brushes

Share your artwork with us and we will give you a shout on our Facebook and/or Instagram page! Take a picture of your artwork and email it to vcpalliance@gmail.com and let us know what your account handle is if you would like to be tagged!

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