Scout Out Your Next Adventure

Calling all Scout leaders!

Are you looking for the next adventure for you and your scout group? Great news- with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, you can discover local forest preserves with a Naturalist!

Our Naturalists can lead your group on an informative hike, or be the perfect complement to your campout! On informative hikes, a Naturalist will cover many different aspects of flora and fauna while helping your scouts work towards their next badge, patch, or pin. You can choose to do a “Seasonal Spotlight” hike that focuses on a variety of topics such as Spring Wildflowers, Trees and Their Leaves, The Amazing Prairie, Animal Tracks and Signs, and more. There are many exciting changes in the natural world every season, and we have a topic for every one of them! Complete with hands-on, interactive discussion and trail hiking, your scouts are sure to enjoy this excursion into nature.

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A Scout group inspects a tree trunk affected by beaver activity

All programs are 60-90 minutes long. Programs can be scheduled at any preserve and can be flexible depending on the needs of your group.  Reservations are required for these hikes. The fee is $2 per person with a minimum of $20 needed for a program. For more information about scheduling and fees, email programs@kaneforest.com or call 630-444-3190.

Nature Tykes & Little Naturalists

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Spiders, bugs, and the great outdoors…does this sound like something your child would enjoy? Have them explore nature with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County! Our programs “Nature Tykes” and “Little Naturalists” are designed for young children who enjoy learning about the natural world.

At these hour long programs, we will focus on a different theme each month. Every session will begin with a short introduction to the topic, and feature a combination of games, stories, crafts, or nature hikes that are led by a District Naturalist. 3 year olds are invited to attend Nature Tykes, and Little Naturalists is geared for 4 and 5 year olds. Spiders, insects, and leaves are the topics we’ll be focusing on this fall.

A parent or caregiver must be present at Nature Tykes throughout the program. Little Naturalists is a “drop-off” program, and adults and siblings are welcome to wait in the nature center or enjoy the trails during the class. The sessions are listed below and are held at Creek Bend Nature Center:

  • Thursday, September 26: Insect Wonderland. Nature Tykes 9:30- 10:30 a.m., Little Naturalists 1- 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 24. Spider Mania. Nature Tykes 9:30- 10:30 a.m., Little Naturalists 1- 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 21. Leaf-O-Rama. Nature Tykes 9:30- 10:30 a.m., Little Naturalists 1- 2 p.m.

 

There is a fee of $5 per child, per session. To register for a session, call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. Creek Bend Nature Center is located at 37W700 Dean Street, St. Charles.

Creek Day: A Summer Camp Special

The best part of summer?  It depends on who you ask, but many would answer summer camp! A popular warm weather activity for generations both young and mature, camp has always been a time to explore nature and meet new friends. At the Forest Preserve District’s Week in the Woods summer camp, this still holds true! Throughout our week-long camps, there are a variety of activities every day such as crafts, outdoor games, and hikes that encourage kids to explore the natural world. A popular favorite activity of campers is Creek day, where they grab their bathing suits and head to Ferson Creek to play for the day. The creek is home to all kinds of aquatic creatures, such as crayfish, frogs, water skaters, and more; many of which we found on the most recent creek trip!

 

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Our Naturalists and their campers search the water with their nets

 

We had a gorgeous, sunny day to get out and explore the creek with our nets! The water was perfect to splash around in and yielded many different creatures that we caught to examine then release back into the creek. When we weren’t searching for the next best creature to drift along, the campers enjoyed swimming and learning to skip rocks; many of them showed awesome talent with it! At the end of the trip, it was clear that the campers had learned so much and gained an amazing appreciation of the creek as a not just a fun place to play, but also a habitat for the many creatures they found! Enjoy the pictures below of the trip and some of their finds! Keep scrolling for information on how to give your kids the opportunity to explore this summer…

 

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A tiny leopard frog

 

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Our nets caught many crayfish!

 

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A small nymph.

 

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A crayfish inside our “specimen bin” that was shortly after returned to it’s habitat.

 

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Another crayfish- these little guys were everywhere!

 

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Fish on! This little one was quickly returned to the water after swimming into our nets.

 

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One of our last finds of the day- a beautiful pair of shells.

 

Want your kids to explore the marvels of nature? Sign them up for Week in the Woods summer camp! Each nature camp runs for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows:  “Summer Unplugged” August 5-August 9. Camp is for kids entering 1st-6th grade, and there is a fee of $175/child for the week. Advance registration is required, register by calling 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. 

A Week in the Woods

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Naturalist Ben Katzen leads campers on a hike through the prairie

Have your kids always wanted to learn how to survive in the woods, or learn how the field of STEM relates to nature? Or maybe their goal (or yours for them) this summer is to unplug from technology and immerse yourself in the great outdoors! Then we have great news: the Forest Preserve District’s summer camps are a perfect activity for your child. At our naturalist-led camps, kids will be able to get out of the house and into nature at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve throughout the summer.

Survival skills are extremely important to both animals and humans who may venture into the woods! In the first week-long installment of summer camp, “Tracking and Survival”, kids will learn how to “read the woods” by searching the forest preserve for clues such as tracks and rubbings that will reveal the hidden world of animals and how they survive in the woods. Kids will also learn human survivals skills such as how to make a rope and build a shelter, among other lessons. It will be a week filled with games, crafts, and lots of hiking!

In July, we’ll discover the beauty of the natural world through STEM-based learning principles at “STEM in Nature”. With the help of naturalists, campers will discover that STEM is all around us in nature! There will be lessons around the architecture of a bird’s nest, the feat of an insect gall, the symmetry of beehives, and much more.

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Campers take a swim in the creek with Naturalist Josh Libman

In the last summer camp installment in August, we’ll focus on enjoying the beautiful weather and outdoors the best way possible; unplugged! At “Summer Unplugged”, kids will have the chance to experience the grandeur of the outdoors just like they did in the good old days. Getting in touch with nature will be the focus that week as campers will be able to play around the forest without any of the common distractions that come with everyday life. The woods, creek, and prairie are just waiting to be explored!

Each nature camp will run for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows: “Tracking and Survival” June 24-June 28, “STEM in Nature” July 15-July 19, and “Summer Unplugged” August 5-August 9. Camp is for kids entering 1st-6th grade, and there is a fee of $175/child for the week. Advance registration is required, register by calling 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. 

The Buzzzzz on Pollinators

 

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A bee lands on a flower. Photo by Valerie Blaine.

Bugs. They seem to be everywhere, right? Buzzing around gardens and other natural areas, or sometimes even your dinner as you try to enjoy a summer picnic outside. While it may seem there is an abundance of them, not all bugs are thriving as of lately. Populations of pollinators across the world are suffering. According to the National Wildlife Federation, habitat loss, invasive species, and pesticides are just a few of the reasons why our tiny friends are disappearing. But there’s good news! Luckily, there are many ways you can help our local pollinators to thrive in your very own garden.

Build a bee house. Although it may sound silly, bees need a place to live too! Yes, the most familiar type of bee, the honey bee, live in a honeycomb but there are actually many species of bees who don’t! By constructing small structures, you’re giving a bee a safe place to lay their eggs or hibernate, as they normally lay them in tunnels they carve into wood. These houses can also be an adorable addition to your garden!

Plant pollinator-friendly species. There are a variety of plants that pollinators love, and you’ll love too for their beauty! Pollinators need pollen and nectar as a source of food but also as a shelter from predators for them and their young. To build an inclusive garden good for all pollinators, plant native species. Research on what plants attract which pollinators to offer a variety for every species and for you to enjoy. For example, Black-Eyed Susans are known to attract bees, while Monarch butterflies love Milkweed!

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A Milkweed plant

Avoid or limit the use of pesticides. For pollinators, pesticides are bad news. While they can control any unwanted weeds, pesticides can also harm our tiny flying friends. Consider other pest control options that are much friendlier to your garden and the pollinators in it. There are certain natural pesticide options, such as vinegar or essential oils that will not affect or harm pollinators in any way, so consider using these the next time there is a pest problem in your backyard.

Get involved. Spreading the word to others about taking care of our pollinators is one of the best ways to support them. There are plenty of volunteer positions with the Kane County Forest Preserve that aid in preserving our beautiful, local wildlife.

Attend National Pollinators Week! During the week of June 17- June 23, the Forest Preserve District will be a part of the international celebration of Pollinator Week. We will be highlighting the valuable ecosystem services provided by our local insects, mammals, birds, and other many pollinators. Check out the many fun activities throughout the week, including pop-up naturalist tents at different forest preserves, the Monarchs and Milkweed Festival (free pollinator-friendly milkweed plants while supplies last!) and self-guided activities at the nature center. Celebrate the pollinators that make our ecosystems thrive!

 

Woodland Birthday Parties

 

 

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Does your child have a birthday coming up soon? Let us host the party with one of our Woodland Birthday Parties! Surrounded by the trees, birds, and other woodland creatures at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, we will provide the best party for any nature-loving child.

Treat your child and their friends to a one hour, naturalist-led activity of your choice. Learn about the plant and animal species that call our local woodlands home during a hike led by one of our Naturalists through the beautiful trails of the forest preserve. Looking for a more cozy setting? The other option is a hands-on campfire, with a naturalist led discussion about a variety of nature topics. After the naturalist activity, the group is given an hour to stay in the historic Creek Bend facility and have free time in the Nature Center.

All parties come with unique, nature themed party favors for every child to take home with them. Food is not provided as a part of the party, but families are more than welcome to provide their own. Although decorations are not provided as a part of the package, guests are welcome to enter the facility early to decorate for their party.

Consider a Woodland party for your child’s next birthday party! The natural surroundings and hands-on experiences will be sure to make your child’s birthday one to remember. For more details, email programs@kaneforest.com or call (630) 444-3190.