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: 

                  2:55-3:10       Snack and Group Games

                  3:10-4:20       Activities in the Field and Classroom

                  4:20-4:45       Individual Crafts, Journaling, & Project Time

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

Students can be picked up at anytime.  However, if your child can stay until at least 4:20, the program will likely be more enjoyable and worthwhile.  


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


Fall Session:  The Young Naturalist

  • Join us as we play and interact with the flora and fauna of MVCS.  We will open our senses, meet our wild friends, and learn how to ethically and creatively use the gifts of nature through games, skits, stories, teamwork, crafts, and exploration. 
  • To build our naturalist skills and work to conserve the land, students will use teamwork to map, inventory, and journal species they find in the forest and field.
  •  Individual and group projects may include making fire, nature art, shelters, cordage (natural rope), walking sticks, atl-atls, bows, netting, foods, and medicine


Weekly Schedule: 

We will follow the 2-week themes described below.   Basic skill development in the areas of nature awareness and outdoor living skills will be woven throughout the weeks and year.  Please be aware that the timing for larger projects (atl-atls, bow drills, baskets, cordage, bows, etc.) may be adjusted according to student interest, material collection, instructor availability, time constraints, etc.    

Weeks 1-2: Hazards—How to Stay Safe in the Outdoors!

  • Games, naming, scavenger hunts, fire safety, knife safety.

Weeks 3-4:  Fun Animals & Plants—Catching & releasing fun creatures and using wild plants. 

  • Frogs, insects, salamanders.  Ethics of hunting and wildcrafting.  Walking sticks.  Building fires.

Weeks 5-6:  Mammals & Tracking—What animals live here and what are their signs

  • Tracking games, treasure hunts, stalking, tracking sticks. 

Weeks 7-8:  Plants—Leaves, flowers, branches, ID! 

  • Eating wild edibles, learning poisonous plants, cordage, baskets, more fire skills. 

Weeks 9-10:  Ecology—How does it all fit together?

  • Wildlife surveys, water & soil testing, invasive species.

Weeks 11-13:  Nature Lore & Traditions—How did our ancestors interact with nature?  

  • Myths, culture, art, crafts, giving thanks, caretaking. 
  • Stories, games, explorations, permaculture projects, apples, acorns, the 3 sisters, cooking fires. 

Weeks 13-15:  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.

Weeks 16-17:  Birds—What birds are living here and what do their 5 voices tell us? 

  • Bird language, games, skits, owl eyes, field mark ID’s, silent scout traveling, being thankful.

Week 17:  Wrap-Up & Celebration

  • Mapping, Journaling, and 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. 

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, returning migratory birds, sap runs, nesting and raising young, wildflowers, and gardening. 

March:  Trees and Tracking.  Tracking and building safe campfires in the snow.  Learning to ID trees by buds and bark.  Maple sugaring.

April:  Birds and Amphibians.  Bird Language and the 5 Voices of the Birds.  Nesting winter residents and returning migratory species.  Amphibians and vernal pools.

May:  Plants, Mammals, and Birding.  Spring ephemerals.  Edible and medicinal plants.   Gardening.  Mammals and tracking.   Bird Language.

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! E mail Mary Doyle at


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