Young Naturalist Program

The Young Naturalist Program (YNP) is a free program for teenagers. 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 June 27 - August 15, excluding July 4, 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. If the “topic” for the day happens to be trees, that doesn’t mean we ignore animals. We will be observing everything of interest in nature all the time! 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..

Registration is closed for the season

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!"

YNP Schedule
Registration is required for all events below. You can sign up for individual events online at the time of registration for the YNP. We must receive your event registration at least 1 week prior to the first date, June 20.

Date Time Location Title Description
9:30 am - 12:30 pm Boundary Creek
We will conduct a scientific survey to understand the breeding bird population that use Boundary Creek.
July 11 9:30 am - 12:30 pm Long Bridge Park
Mammals & Tracking We will take a look at the secretive world of mammals by examining clues and tracks they leave behind.
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.
9:30 am - 12:30 pm Crystal Lake
BioBlitz We will use identification skills from the previous session to perform a complete biological survey (BioBlitz).  Wear proper footwear for hiking steep slopes.
August 1
9:30 am - 12:30 pm Smithville Park
Water Quality Assessment
We will use special nets to uncover aquatic invertebrates that serve as indicators of water quality.
August 8 9:30 am - 12:30 pm Rancocas
Canoe Trail
Kayaking* Starting at the canoe launch behind BCC, we will kayak 4 miles down the Rancocas Creek, getting a totally different perspective of nature from the water.
    9:30 am - 12:30 pm Smithville Park
    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 8. There are no kayak lessons offered through the County Parks System. Students that need lessons can contact L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School. Anyone enrolled in the Young Naturalist Program will receive an email about kayak lessons at L.L. Bean and discounts. 

    Please note: Historic Smithville Park is divided into two distinct sections, Smith’s Woods and Smithville Park. Programs at Smith’s Woods will meet at the main parking lot on East Railroad Avenue near the information kiosk and restrooms.   The program at Smithville Park on 8/1 will meet at Parking lot E off River St.