Young Naturalist Program

The Young Naturalist Program is a free program for teenagers who are residents of Burlington County. This program will allow teens with an interest in the environment to develop a greater appreciation of the outside world and experience all that nature has to offer in the Burlington County Parks System! No homework, no grades, no tests, no pressure, just fun outside. Those looking to potentially pursue a career in the natural sciences can gain valuable field experience and begin building a resume.


Activities will take place within our Burlington County parks every Monday morning from July 2 - August 13 and all are led by a County Park Naturalist. Every time we meet for an outing in one of the parks, we will be observing nature around us. Examples of summer activities and topics in YNP include:

  • Biological assessment
  • Kayaking
  • Keeping a nature journal
  • Orienteering
  • Plant and animal identification
  • Understanding and using dichotomous keys

If you cannot attend a few of the dates, that is okay. You do not have to make them up. However, if you cannot attend more than half of the dates (4), you can of course participate in the activities, but you will not be able to receive an official certification proving that you have completed the program.

YNP crystal Lake 1


You can register for the Young Naturalist Program here.
Registration is open from May 4-June 25.
Registration is only available to those who reside in Burlington County.

Testimonial from a Young Naturalist

"When I learned there was a young naturalist program cover the course of the summer I was excited. Here was a place where I could get hands on experience and learn new things about the wildlife around my home. It was so much fun! Everyone was nice and I knew they had the same interests as me. We discussed butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, trees, fungi, and so much more. I love hiking through the different parks and seeing the wide variety of animal and plant life. Now I can identify the different species in my backyard and several plants that grow in the forest down the street. I can’t wait to sign up for next year so I can learn even more."

Testimonials from Parents of Young Naturalists

"I can hardly believe how happy my son looks! He’s already told me he wants to do this program again next summer. He has really enjoyed these sessions, beyond his expectations."

"The program was great. Time was convenient for parents. Participant enjoyed journaling … it helped to keep things organized and helped to remember what was seen / heard on the hikes."

"[My son] really enjoyed the Young Naturalist Program this summer. Thanks for all you did for our kids!"

Young Naturalist Program Schedule

Registration for Young Naturalist Program sessions will be available on our website May 4-June 25. We must receive your event registrations before June 25. Events take place at the same time every Monday from July 2-August 13.

July 2
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Rancocas Nature Center
Water Quality Assessment

Use macroinvertebrate sampling techniques to determine water quality of streams. Wear boots or shoes that can get muddy/wet.

9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Crystal Lake
Mammals & Tracking

Mammals are generally secretive and not as easily seen as some other animals. Hike through the rugged trails of Crystal Lake to look for signs of mammals. We will also have a skull identification activity at the pavilion. 

9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Smith's Woods
Key to ID
Explore the park while using dichotomous keys and field guides to correctly identify various species of plants.
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Long Bridge
Forestry and Ecological Assessments

Learn how to conduct forest measurements and use this data in conjunction with an app to determine the environmental value of trees (carbon dioxide absorption, storm water interception, air pollution removal, etc.). Also learn how to read tree rings to determine what happened in the past. 

9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Amico Island

Learn how to use a map and compass for navigation. This program will involve working in small groups to find specific locations, using special orienteering maps in conjunction with a compass. Instruction followed by hiking and orienteering on the trails. 

August 6
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Rancocas Canoe Trail

Starting at the canoe launch behind BCC, we will kayak 4 miles down the Rancocas Creek, getting a completely different perspective of nature from the water. 

9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Boundary Creek
Tying it all
For the last trip, we will use some of the skills acquired throughout the series to tie everything together for a complete outdoor experience.

*Kayak programs fill up fast and have a precise limited number of allowed participants. A minimum of 2 previous sessions must be attended in order to participate in the kayaking session on August 6. There are no kayak lessons offered through the County Parks System. Students that need lessons can contact L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School.