Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring and Summer Nature Programs!

This year is going to be chock-full of even more fun, hands-on nature education opportunities for children and families!

Here's what we have planned: a NEW spring break Nature Adventure camp for children ages 6-8, a NEW Field Trip theme to choose from for ages 4-9, a wide variety of summer Nature Explorers camps for ages 4-5 and ages 6-7, a NEW Nature Rangers camp for ages 8-9, monthly Family Nature Explorers walks from April to November, a NEW Nature Docent Program, a NEW camp for ages 4-5 at Laurelhurst Community Center, and several special events for the whole community! Wow!

All these fun and educational programs are listed below in chronological order. All are led by nature educator Emily Bishton, and sponsored by
Magnuson Community Center
7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle 98115

Register in advance for any of these nature programs by contacting community center staff at 206-684-7026, or online at

The Magnuson Community Center is also seeking volunteers who would like to participate in these programs! If you are interested, please click on the other February posting, which has a full description of the NEW Nature Docent Program and a list of all its volunteer opportunities.

Saturday March 12th: Bird Nest Bounty class from 10am-12noon
For children ages 6 - 10 (parent participation is welcome at no extra charge)

Pre-registration required
Learn where and how native songbirds build their nests each spring in Magnuson Park; build your own beautiful cedar birdhouse so they can nest in your backyard! $15 fee includes supplies.
Instructor: Emily Bishton
Location: Magnuson Community Center/Windermere Room

Family Nature Explorers-FREE Spring Wetland Walks
Join Emily and special guests for the first Wetland Walks of the year. Take a guided tour of the Magnuson Wetlands, with hands-on exploration activities for the whole family. Pre-registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. Each month's walk has a different plant and animal theme:
Sat. April 9th from 9am-10am "Wetland Wake-up"! (special early time, before the Celebrate Urban Nature" event begins- see below)
Sat. May 14th from 10am-11am "Tadpoles & Nestlings"
Both walks begin at the South Wetlands Entrance (off 65th St.)

Saturday April 9th: Celebrate Urban Nature!
from 10:30am-2:00pm in the Magnuson Community Center Auditorium and Gym
No registration needed

Join in the fun at our 2nd annual FREE celebration to kick off spring! Celebrate and explore the natural wonders that are all around us in the city. Featuring a concert for tots, nature booths, games, presentations, and more.... the grand finale will be a nature parade down to the Children's Garden for the re-dedication of the Gray Whale Garden and its brand new mosaic eye!


Spring Break: "Nature Explorers Adventure Camp"
For children ages 6-8
Tuesday April 19th - Thursday April 21st from 9:30am-12:30pm
Pre-registration required
Enjoy a new nature adventure each day, with hands-on exploration activities, nature science experiments, gardening, games, and much more! Camp fee includes an official Jr. Nature Explorer bandana. Bring a sack lunch, and an appetite for fresh-out-of-the-garden snacking!
Fee: $90
Camp Director: Emily Bishton
Location: Each day begins in The Brig - Ravenna Room, and the majority of the camp is spent outdoors in surrounding park areas.

Can you find the frog hiding in this log? This and many more nature adventures are waiting for you in our School Field Trip Program!

Designed for children ages 4-9 (pre-K to 3rd grade, this is an exciting addition to the Magnuson Nature Programs schedule. Each field trip theme includes age-appropriate investigation and exploration, plus hands-on stewardship activities. Great for schools, preschools, and more!

Teachers can choose from three field trip themes, each a 90-minute guided adventure in a different part of the park:

1. “Wetland Discoveries”: learn how the Magnuson Wetlands help restore the natural functions of the Sand Point Peninsula and provides good habitat for plants, animals, amphibians, and other creatures that make their home in the park.

2. “The Birds of Magnuson Park”: learn how the wildlife habitats that have been created in the Magnuson Historic District are providing many species of songbirds and raptors with the food, water, shelter and nesting places they need in order to thrive.

3. “Life in a Garden”: learn about all the ingredients and tiny residents of healthy soil, and how it has been created in the Magnuson Children’s Garden and Community Garden. Participate in growing and harvesting organic food crops, fragrant and colorful herbs, and more.

Field Trip Leader: Emily Bishton, accompanied by nature docents and special guests.
Fee: $100 for first 20 children, $5 per additional child
Call Magnuson Community Center at 206-684-7026 for more information or to register.

Spring Field Trip Schedule - available only during the month of May! Choose from 10-11:30 am or 12:30-2pm on any of the following dates:
Tuesdays 5/3- 5/24
Wednesdays 5/4- 5/25
Thursdays 5/5- 5/26

Summer Field Trip Schedule- available only during the month of August!
Thursdays 8/4 - 8/25, choose from 10-11:30 am or 12:30-2pm

Fall Field Trip Schedule- available only during the month of September! Choose from 10-11:30 am or 12:30-2pm on any of the following dates:
Tuesdays 9/20 + 9/27
Wednesdays 9/21 + 9/28
Thursdays 9/22 + 9/29

Register in advance by contacting Magnuson Community Center staff at 206-684-7026, or register online at

Our fees have remained the same for the 3rd year in a row*, so register early to guarantee your spot! Children will learn about the plants, animals, birds, worms, insects, and frogs that live in Magnuson Park, help grow and harvest organic vegetables, hike in the natural areas of the park, and do stewardship activities. Each day also includes nature crafts, songs, games, and picnics. Camp fee includes an official Jr. Nature Explorer bandana, and each camp has a different theme and activities- sign up for one or several!

Fresh-from-the-Garden class
for children ages 6-9
Friday July 22nd from 9:30am-12:30pm

Have fun harvesting organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs, planting additional crops, and preparing a delicious lunch using seasonal ingredients. Each child can invite a guest for the shared, multi-course meal, and will take home recipes and food-growing tips to try in your own garden. Fee: $30

Jr. Nature Explorers Camps
for children ages 4-5
Our 7th year of camps!
Fee: $90

June 20th-23rd "The Wiggly World of Worms" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm)

July 5th-7th "Roots & Shoots" (Tu-Th from 9:30am-12:30pm)

July 18th-20th "The World of Water" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm

Aug 1st-3rd "Pollinator Power" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm)

Aug 8th-10th "Beetles on Parade" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm)

Aug 15th-17th "Winged Wonders" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm)

August 22nd-24th "Park Explorers" (M-W from 2:30pm-5:30pm @ Laurelhurst Community Center)

Aug 29th-31st "Flowers & Fruits" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm)

Nature Explorers Camps
for children ages 6-7
NEW this year in response to parent input: variable times!

June 27th-29th "The Wiggly World of Worms" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm) $90

July 11th-13th "The World of Water" (M-W from 9:30am-1:30pm) $120

Aug 8th-10th "Beetles on Parade" (M-W from 1:30-4:30pm) $90

Aug 22nd-24th "Roots, Shoots, Flowers, & Fruits" (M-W from 9:30am-12:30pm) $90

NEW Nature Rangers Camp!
for children ages 8-9

Another NEW option this year in response to parent input: a camp for older explorers, with a longer camp day/week! Join us for a different nature-adventure theme each day, with a wider scope of hands-on science activities and park exploration, plus the favorites that kids have come to know and love over the years, such as fort-building, bug hunts, and snack walks in our p-patch.
July 25th-29th (Mon-Thurs from 9:30am-1:30pm) Fee: $160

(*the two new extended-day camps have a higher fee that reflect the increase in camp-hours)

Family Nature Explorers- Summer Nighttime Nature Walks
June 17th- “Moonrise Walk” 8:30-9:30pm
July 15th- “Full Moon Walk” 8:30-9:30pm
Aug 19th- “Twilight Batwalk” 8:30-9:30pm

Fee: $2/individual or $5/family
Pre-registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. All walks begin at the South Wetlands Entrance (off 65th St.)

Family Campout- August 5-6
This event at the Magnuson Swimming Beach has been a huge hit for the past 3 years, featuring a hot dog roast and sing-a-long around the campfire, a nighttime bat walk and early morning birdwalk, and more! Last year campers woke up to the sight of a Bald Eagle gliding over the lakeshore, then got to witness the courtship display of a Hummingbird at the edge of the Kite Hill Forest.

Family Nature Explorers- Fall Wetland Walks
Sept. 10th 10-11am “Marvelous Migration”
Oct 8th 10-11am “Autumn Arrivals”
Nov 12th 10-11am “Wetland Wonderland”

Fee: $2/individual or $5/family
Pre-registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. All walks begin at the South Wetlands Entrance (off 65th St.) Register in advance by contacting community center staff at 206-684-7026, or online at

Saturday October 1st from 11am-2pm: FREE! The 2nd annual "Fall Harvest Celebration and Nature Jamboree", co-sponsored by the Magnuson Community Garden, which will be celebrating their 10th Aniversary Year too! Come join the fun at this fabulous event, featuring a family concert, orchard maze and scavenger hunt, pumpkin walk, cider press, nature prizes, scarecrow-making, and more!
"Bird-friendly Wreath & Nest Box" craft-party at Magnuson Community Center, date likely in early or mid-December, will be announced soon.

The NEW Magnuson Nature Docent Program!

The Magnuson Nature Docent program is designed to provide a variety of ongoing volunteer opportunities for adults who want to assist in growing and strengthening Magnuson Community Center's nature programs, and make them more sustainable.

Docents can choose from these options:
  • Help lead nature education programs for children or families, with weekday or Saturday choices.
  • Provide "behind-the-scenes" support by helping maintain program supplies and work on new program curriculum.
  • Help steward the beautiful Bird-Friendly Landscape or the fabulous Children's Garden & P-Patch vegetable plot.
Or any combination of the above!

FREE training is provided so volunteers are well-prepared for all the fun, and all ages are welcome. The volunteer opportunities also qualify for service-learning credit at local schools.

If you are a King County Master Gardener or a Native Plant Steward, your hours will count towards your volunteer commitment to these organizations too.

Here are detailed descriptions of each type of opportunity:

1. Assist with hands-on nature activities during Magnuson Field Trips. These 90-min weekday adventures for children ages 4-9 (and their teachers) take place in the Magnuson Wetlands, Children's Garden, or the Bird-friendly Landscape and surrounding historic district. Each includes experiential learning about the birds, insects, plants, and animals that make their home in Magnuson Park, plus stewardship activities to improve the habitat for all, making these field trips a fun and educational adventure!

Morning field trip shift is 9:30am-12:00pm, afternoon shift is 12:00pm-2:30pm

Spring Schedule: each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the month of May.
Summer Schedule: each Thursday during the month of August.
Fall Schedule:
each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the last two weeks of September.

2. Assist with hands-on activities during
Family Wetland Walks or Nighttime Nature Walks. These popular 60-min adventures take place in the Magnuson Wetlands once a month from April to November. Spring and fall walks are on Saturday mornings, and summer walks are on Friday evenings. It's delightful to guide and witness a family's excitement upon seeing tadpoles and tree frogs, barn owls and bats, and understanding how the native plants and other habitat features of the wetlands and surrounding park areas provide what they need to thrive.

3. Assist with hands-on activities during Jr. Nature Explorers camps and classes, or helping with behind-the-scenes preparation. Now entering its 7th year, this is a vibrant program that guides children ages 4-9 in making a strong connection to many aspects of the natural world, and it continues to expand in response to demand.

4. Provide "behind-the-scenes" support. We have a large amount of supplies for field trips and nature walks, classes and camps. Helping keep them well-organized and in good condition is an important part of our program sustainability, most of the work can be done according to your schedule, and some can even be done from the comfort of your home.

5. Help provide stewardship for the community center's Bird-friendly Landscape, a backyard-sized demonstration garden which is filled with native plants and home to many species of native songbirds. With increased cuts to the Seattle Parks Dept budget resulting in less grounds crew staff to do more work, volunteer stewards are very much needed, and will make a huge difference in keeping this beautiful landscape sustainable and educational. Here are the 3 tasks involved:
  • We need volunteer groups who want to help with simple garden maintenance tasks such as weeding and mulching, and will provide them with tools, gloves, and other supplies needed. We also need experienced gardeners and birders to help guide these small groups of enthusiastic volunteers!
  • Recording your bird observations. We would like to have a record of the names and numbers of the birds and other wildlife (such as Tree Frogs) that visit the landscape while stewards are gardening, so we can track the ongoing success of the landscape habitat. We will provide you with a wildlife checklist and ID guides.
  • Cleaning out 3 nest boxes once a year, typically in the fall. We have 2 small Chickadee nest boxes which have both been used during the past few years, and one large Barn Owl nest box which we are very optimistic will be used this year since the owls have already been active in nearby park areas this winter. We will provide you with all the tools and gloves you'll need, and all the boxes can be cleaned without standing on a ladder.
Much more info on this vibrant, volunteer-built project is posted at

6. Help provide stewardship of the Magnuson Children's Garden and Jr. Nature Explorers P-patch plot. The Children's Garden is an exciting, half-acre oasis that was designed by local children to contain a wide variety of fragrant, touchable, and colorful plants, along with plenty of whimsy. The Jr. Nature Explorers P-patch plot is a 300 sq. ft. vegetable garden that is a mainstay for our field trips and camps. Both have been stewarded by volunteers for their entire history, and are in need of experienced gardeners to help guide small but enthusiastic volunteer groups. We would welcome your help in continuing this legacy. Visit for more info

Please contact me at if you are interested in any of the volunteer opportunities listed above. I'll be glad to talk with you personally about whatever docent role you feel would suit you the most!