Kids in the Creek 2024

children learning at a park table
Bringing the student out to the field is the best way to learn about the environment. The “Kids In The Creek” program has been doing just that for many years. The Lake County Resource Conservation District sponsors this annual program. In the spring, the Kids In The Creek program brings fourth graders from Upper Lake Elementary School out to the forest to learn about the interdependent nature of our environment. The program uses the US Forest Service’s Middle Creek Campground as an outdoor classroom. The kids visit 5 different stations, learning about nature as they go. Mendocino National Forest professionals staff the stations.

At one station, Mendocino Forest hydrologist Hilda Kwan and Fisheries Biologist Joshua Abel had the kids thinking about water quality and the life cycles of fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects. The ecology of water systems and the effects human activities have on our water quality was explained while kids looked at aquatic insects under microscopes. Wildlife biologist Michael Huhndorf introduced the kids to the concept of the limits of natural resources and what that does to wildlife. The kids were assigned to be either a natural resource or a deer. The resources hid around the campground area and the deer had to find them. As resources dwindled, so did the deer who could locate a resource.

children learning at a park table
children taking group picture with Smokey the Bear
children learn in open green space

Natural Resource Specialist Georgia Wack’s station was focused on measuring and characterizing native plants at the campground. Supervisory Land Management Planner April Hargis showed the kids how to use replicas of stone food processing grinding stones and mortars and pestles to grind nuts and leaves that they gathered.

At the final station, fire prevention officer Nathan Weese with the help of firefighters Cody Cranford and Francisco Sturr, explained the role of fire in nature. The kids learned about good fires versus bad fires, prescription burning, and home fire safety. The firefighters showed off the tools of the trade when fighting a Wildland fire and the safety equipment used to protect their lives. After everyone had eaten lunch, Smokey Bear made an appearance to say hi to the kids.

Forest Service personnel really goes out of their way to help the RCD and being able to use Middle Creek Campground is a major feature of the program. There is plenty of room, is safe for the kids, and has picnic and restroom facilities. Really a perfect place.