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.
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
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.
Fall Session: THE YOUNG NATURALIST
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:
Fire-making and cooking
Trees and tools
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:
Edible and medicinal plants
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!