How do you learn about the natural world around you?

Do you take interpretive hikes? Buy field guides? Volunteer?

What you said above and more. You can try researching about the natural world around you, and them you out and try expirencing different things that you read about. Its very good to be informative about what your going to do so you can watch out for important things.
All of those are good. There are two basic kinds of learning. One is to learn the names of things, their structure, etc. and how they are related to others. All of the ways you've mentioned are good, and you should pursue these. The second is just to spend time in nature and pay attention. Bird books won't tell you how a pair of tiny sparrows can frighten a hawk away from their nest, but if you watch, you'll see it. I encourage you to pursue both approaches. Get some good books so you can look up things you see. Learn toidentify all theplants and animals around you. Try to find someone knowledgeable you can spend time with. Enjoy!
By going out and experiencing it!
Are you able to go and look? All of the options you give involve someone telling you what to think.
Then that may not seem much different to taking one of my classes. Of course if you failed to analyse and criticise every thing I told you and every thing you read you would not pass.
Get out and look at it in person, dont waste your time with the Dishevelment Channel, National Greedographic, or such.

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