Red Foxes making coal burning bowls in the Young Naturalist program.

Red Foxes making coal burning bowls in the Young Naturalist program.

Red Foxes Young Naturalist Program

The MVCS Young Naturalist Program provides fun and engaging opportunities for all MVCS students to learn, grow, and explore nature while being mentored in a positive culture of care and respect. This program is open to MVCS children in 1st - 7th grades. 

Our young naturalists, Red Foxes, will develop deeper connections to nature, themselves, and others through a variety of activities, including animal tracking, awareness games, shelter building, nature crafts, storytelling, and lots of play and adventure. The Young Naturalist program is divided into different units, based on the changing seasons.

Daily Schedule: 

                  2:55-3:20       Giving thanks, snack and group games

                  3:25-4:45       Activities in the field and classroom

                  4:45-5:00       Clean-Up and Dismissal

pick up:

You may pick up your student at anytime.  However, we highly encourage students to stay until at least 4:30 so they receive the full benefit of the day’s lesson and to minimize disruptions to our program. 

Pickup is usually from the Upper Elementary Campus

Please check the ASP IN/ASP OUT sign, hanging over the ramp to the Black Bear’s entry, to determine if our program is currently inside or outside

If outside, use the orange radios to contact staff for student pickup.


The cost of our Young Naturalist program is $6 for the first hour; $5 for the second hour.



Weekly Schedule: 

We will follow the themes described below.   Basic skill development in the areas of nature awareness, ecology, team-building, and outdoor living skills will be woven throughout the weeks and year.  Please be aware that the timing for larger projects (bow drills, baskets, cordage, bows, etc.) may be adjusted according to student interest, material collection, instructor availability, time constraints, etc.    

Weeks 1-2 (Aug. 27-Sept. 7):  Hazards, Community, Core Routines

  • Learning how to say safe in the outdoors

  • Building teamwork and positive community

  • Practicing core routines that build sensory awareness and nature connection

  • Team games, nature names, sit spots, animal games, fox walking, owl eyes, deer ears, skits, scavenger hunts, etc.

Week 3-4 (Sept. 10-20):  Flora and Fauna of Fort Creek

  • Catch and release--frogs, insects, and salamanders.

  • Ethics of hunting and wildcrafting. Edible and medicinal plantain, jewelweed, dandelion, etc.

Weeks 5-6 (Sept. 24-Oct. 4):  Mammals and Plants

  • Tracking games, predator-prey games, sit spots, field guide treasure hunts, stalking games, journaling, animal cards, rabbit sticks, deerskin pouches.

  • Plant games, eating wild edibles, journaling, learning poisonous plants, making cordage and baskets, tinder bundles.

Weeks 7-10 (Oct. 9-Nov. 1): Ecology and Restoration

  • Wildlife surveys, wildlife food & shelter sources, amphibians, arthropods, pollinators, water & soil testing, invasive species, fire-by-friction.

  • Restoring Fort Creek’s ecosystem, trail work, mapping

Weeks 11-13 (Nov. 5-20):  Historical Uses of the Land

  • How did our ancestors interact with nature? Myths, culture, art, crafts, giving thanks, care-taking.

  • Storytelling, games, forest explorations, mini-permaculture projects, weaving, baskets, the 3 sisters, murals, masks, apples, acorns, care-taking the forest and fields, cooking fires.

Weeks 14-15 (Nov. 26-Dec 6):  Trees & Tools

  • What trees live here and what gifts do they offer?

  • Meet-a-tree, shelters, twig ID, atl-atls, bows, fires, tools, teamwork, fire-by-friction.

Week 16 (Dec 10-14):  Birds

  • What birds are living here and what do their 5 voices tell us?

  • Stories, thankfulness, games, skits, bird language sit spots, forest exploration, Owl Eyes, field mark ID’s, silent scout traveling.

Week 17 (Dec 17-20):  Wrap-Up & Celebration

  • Project Display, Performance, and Celebration.

Winter Session: Snow, Stories, & Skills

Students will have many opportunities to enjoy snow play and travel, winter outdoor skills, listening to stories, crafting, and working on tools and projects. 

Themes will include:

  • Snow sports

  • Fire-making and cooking

  • Trees and tools

  • Winter Birds

  • Tracking

  • Winter Twig ID

Spring Session: Nature Awakens…The Young Naturalist, Part II

Students will continue to develop their naturalist skills as the spring brings renewed life, sprouting plants.  

Themes will include:

  • Maple sugaring

  • Edible and medicinal plants

  • Migratory songbirds

  • Tree Leaf and Twig ID

Want to help?

If you know of experts in the field or adults or elders who have been practicing these skills for a long time who might be interested in sharing their wisdom and skills with our youngsters, please pass that info along to us!


Wish list