Join our Parks Naturalists in exploring the natural areas of Washtenaw County this summer through the Junior Naturalist Program. Learn, Play, Explore, Discover...with Washtenaw County Parks!
The Junior Naturalist Program is a fun, hands-on nature discovery for children ages 7-12. Each program session will target a different area of nature; children will learn to identify the basic flora and fauna of Washtenaw County and build an awareness of the natural world through direct observation. Sessions can be attended separately; however, kids who attend five out of the six programs (offered June through August) will be certified as a Junior Naturalist.
Adult Nature Programs can be substituted for Junior Naturalist sessions in order to earn the certification. See the Calendar of Events for Adult Nature Programs schedule.
Discover, investigate and enjoy fun adventures in the outdoors!
Interested, but younger than 7 years old? Check out Nature Fun for Kids programs!
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.
A vehicle entry fee is required for sessions at Independence Lake and Rolling Hills parks. Yearly passes are available for purchase.
Pre-registration is required. SPACE IS LIMITED! We will accept 10 children per program – check availability and reserve your spot here.
2015 Session Details
Junior Naturalist: Michigan Fish and Fishing
Saturday, June 13th, 10:30AM-noon
Rolling Hills Park (Vehicle entry fee required)
Michigan is home to many kinds of fish. Learn about fish species such as lake sturgeon, walleye, largemouth bass, and bluegill, and where these fish can be found. Also, learn about some of things to look for on a fish to help with identification and finish the program by spending some time fishing from the dock at the park’s pond. Poles, bait and instruction will be provided. A hat, water and sunscreen are recommended. (Faye Stoner leads this program.)
Junior Naturalist: Citizen Science--The Great Sunflower Project
Saturday, June 20, 10:30AM-Noon
County Farm Park, Platt Road Lot
From strawberries to chocolate, bees pollinate some of our favorite foods! Learn about wild bees and honeybees, and the important role they play in our lives. We will directly observe bees visiting flowers, and learn how to tell one bee from another. At the end of the program we will submit our data to The Great Sunflower Project, a national citizen science effort to learn about wild bees. (Shawn Severance leads this program.)
Junior Naturalist: Citizen Science--Bluebirds, Tree Swallows & other Nestbox Users
Saturday, July 11, 10:30-Noon
West Lake Preserve
Bluebird populations once were quite low in Michigan, but thanks to people who put up and take care of nest boxes, bluebirds have made a comeback! Learn about the special needs of bluebirds and other cavity nesters. Hike to check inside several boxes and see active nests with eggs and baby birds, and help record nesting data that will be sent to the Michigan Bluebird Society to be studied by professional scientists. Long pants, sturdy shoes, a hat, and water are recommended. (Faye Stoner leads this program.)
Junior Naturalist: Geology Rocks!
Saturday, July 18, 10:30-Noon
Fox Science Preserve
Take a trip back in time as we hike down into an old gravel pit to hunt for rocks. Hands-on activities will explore the rock cycle, introduce kids to the science of geology, and explain the history of the earth. (Shawn Severance leads this program.)
Junior Naturalist: Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers & Insects
Saturday, Aug 8, 10:30-Noon
Independence Lake County Park (vehicle entry fee required)
Independence Lake is home to a genuine prairie, with tall grasses and beautiful wildflowers unique to this special habitat! During this program, we will talk about what makes a prairie different from other habitats; learn some of the plant species found here, like big bluestem and yellow coneflower; and look at some insects that make their home among these prairie plants, including butterflies, grasshoppers, and more. Long pants, sturdy shoes, water and sunscreen are recommended. (Faye Stoner leads this program.)
Junior Naturalist: Ice Age Mystery
Saturday, Aug 15, 10:30-Noon
Park Lyndon, north lot
Imagine a one-mile wall of ice pulverizing everything in its path…this was Michigan 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age! As the glaciers melted, they shaped the land and habitats we see today. From forest to wetland, hike the trails of Park Lyndon North while learning to read the history of the land--from its hills to valleys. (Shawn Severance leads this program.)
Pre-registration is required for participation in these programs. Online registration is provided for your convenience - please click here.
For more information about children’s programs, call our administrative offices at (734) 971-6337 and ask to speak with a Parks Naturalist or email us at email@example.com.