Junior Naturalist

Join our Parks Naturalists in exploring the natural areas of Washtenaw County this summer through the Junior Naturalist Program. This is a hands-on, nature-based program for children ages 7-12. Learn, Play, Explore, Discover ... with Washtenaw County Parks!

Program Details

Programs are free for Washtenaw County residents.

Children must be 7 – 12 years old.

Each program is approximately 1-1/2 hours long and will be held outdoors - please bring water, sunscreen, insect repellent and sturdy shoes.

There is a vehicle entry fee for sessions at Independence Lake and Rolling Hills.  Yearly passes are available for purchase.

SPACE IS LIMITED! We will accept 12 children per program – check availability and reserve your spot here.  

Session Details

Junior Naturalist:  Nature Hiking and Safety

June 7th, 10AM-noon

Independence Lake County Park 

($) No vehicle entry fee this session ... stick around & join us for Community Safety Day at Blue Heron Bay!!

A safe and fun hiking trip begins indoors with good planning.  This hike will look at some of the common hazards we encounter along the trail, and how to prepare for them.   Having the equipment you need for comfort and safety increases self-confidence and opportunities for learning about nature. Part of Community Safety Day at Independence Lake.  Led by Shawn Severance. 

Junior Naturalist:  Monarchs and Milkweeds

June 14th, 10:30AM-noon

County Farm Park, meet at the Platt Road entrance

Discover the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly and learn about the incredible journey these tiny animals make each year.  Learn to identify milkweeds, the host plant for Monarch caterpillars and a prime nectar source for many other fascinating creatures. After a short orientation, we’ll hike in search of monarchs and other butterflies in the open fields.  Led by Shawn Severance

Junior Naturalist:  Michigan Birds and Birdwatching

June 28th, 10:30AM-noon

Independence Lake, meet at the Beach Center ($) Vehicle entry fee applies.

We will learn how to identify birds, with and without binoculars, and then go on a hike to see what different birds we can spot and identify.   We will hike in woods, near wetlands and along the lake looking for woodpeckers, swallows, kingbirds and more.   Please bring binoculars if you can; there will be a few pairs for sharing, so no worries if you don’t have any.  Led by  Faye Stoner. 

Junior Naturalist:  Michigan Trees  ** THIS PROGRAM IS FULL **

July 12th, 10:30AM-noon

Scio Woods Preserve   

We will look at leaves, bark and habitat as we learn how to identify several common trees.  We will look at Beech, Shagbark Hickory, Black Cherry and more, plus we will also have a tree scavenger hunt as part of our program today.  Led by Faye Stoner. Note: No restrooms at this location.

Junior Naturalist:  Michigan Wildflowers ** THIS PROGRAM IS FULL **

July 26th, 10:30AM-noon 

County Farm Park, meet at the Platt Road entrance

Get to know your summer wildflowers in their native habitat. We will observe the wildlife that visit the flowers and also investigate invasive plants and how they disrupt the habitat.   Led by Shawn Severance  

Junior Naturalist:  All About Insects  ** THIS PROGRAM IS FULL **

August 9th, 10:30AM-noon

County Farm Park, meet at the Platt Road entrance

We will learn about insect traits and how a beetle is different from a bug, how a grasshopper is different from cicada, and more.  We will use sweep nets to collect insects and practice identifying them, but then all insects will be set free.  Nets are provided.  Led by Faye Stoner

Junior Naturalist:  Michigan Habitats

August 23rd, 10:30AM-noon

Independence Lake County Park, meet at the Beach Center ($) Vehicle entry fee applies.

Wild and wonderful Michigan is home to prairies and wetlands, forests and lakes.  See how the Michigan wilderness might have looked a few hundred years ago with this hike around the native tallgrass prairies, cordgrass marshes and oak woods of Independence Lake.  Led by Shawn Severance.  


Pre-registration is required for participation in these programs.  Online registration is provided for your convenience - please click here.


For more information on summer children’s programs, call our administrative offices at (734) 971-6337 and ask to speak with a Parks Naturalist or email us at parks@ewastenaw.org

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