Parents struggling with how to pry their teens out of the digital world should take note.
This year’s array of summer programs at the Kokanee Creek Park Visitors Centre features a new series of scientific explorations designed for 11 to 16 year olds.
“Kokanee Nature Investigators is a summer long program featuring five areas of study,” said the centre’s naturalist, Dr. Joanne Siderius.
“We already have great programs for the younger kids, but this year we are reaching out to the older youth to give them a taste of what it’s like to do field work and observation.”
Siderius and three other instructors will offer three-hour afternoon classes every week that cover five outdoor scientific investigations.
They include nature journaling, animal behaviour and census, Kokanee Creek inhabitants and water quality, aboriginal Botany and aboriginal tracking.
The programs are free thanks to grants from the Columbia Basin Trust and the Nelson and District Credit Union. Sign up is preferable, says Siderius, but no one will be turned away.
“Come to one or come to all,” said Siderius. “It’s a great way to tap into your inner scientist.
“We’ve designed the program so youth can take the city bus to and from Nelson to the park.”
That’s not all that will be happening at the park.
Continuing this year will be the ever popular Jerry the Moose outdoor programs for younger kids, Natures Notebooks and Drawing from Nature for children, family evening presentations as well as storytelling on Saturday nights and science in the park on Tuesday nights.
New this year will be aboriginal programs on Thursday nights.
Now in its fourth year of operation under the West Kootenay EcoSociety, the Centre hosted 17,000 visitors last year.
One of the highlights of the summer season is the annual RedFish Festival, celebrating the return of the kokanee to the Kokanee Creek spawning channel.
This year’s festival will be held Sunday, August 24, with hourly tours of the channel, music, food and kids crafts.
“Education is the best path to conservation,” Siderius said. “And we make it fun as well as important.”
The centre opens daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Nature Investigators begins July 7.
“We continue to have incredible support from businesses, organizations and government. We couldn’t to it without them and our great volunteers,” said Siderius.