Education & Outreach

Nature Education

Creating an outdoor natural history experience with a twist of fun, artistic and creative science discoveries.

As the temperatures begin to drop and the leaves from century-old cottonwood trees turn to gold, we are reminded that summer has come to a close. Before beginning what is expected to be another successful year of school education programming throughout the Santa Fe area, it is important to reflect on this summer’s accomplishments.

With the help of 16 talented youth counselors and 1 dedicated intern, the education staff offered nine, one-of-a-kind weeklong summer camps for 170 children at the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary. Each week, we explored a different nature and science topic through activities, games, discovery, and art. Thanks to donations made by Wild Birds Unlimited and the Santa Fe community, seven children were able to attend camp on scholarships. We hope to provide even more scholarships next summer with your support.

Audubon’s summer day camp encourages an understanding, appreciation and love of nature and inspires young naturalists ages 5-12 to learn about science in the outdoors. About twenty optimistic, energetic faces were welcomed each week of camp. Campers participated in a variety of hands-on science activities such as bird watching, river investigations, native plants investigations, and exploring local geology through minerals and fossils. Using their creativity, campers designed their own rain dances, wildlife habitats, art exhibits, forest villages and showed their problem-solving skills at games such as Bon Appetweet.  

Additional programming was delivered to over 450 Santa Fe youth from organizations like Girls Inc., Hands-On Heritage City Summer Camp, and Pajarito Environmental Education Center, through a variety of educational offerings.

In addition to the Summer Camp, Audubon Educators also conducted a four-day teacher workshop to develop a new NGSS-aligned, hands-on life science curriculum for third though fifth graders. This innovative partnership is part of the Santa Fe Outdoor Educators Collaborative, with support from the LANL Foundation. Throughout the pilot year, Audubon staff and classroom teachers are collaborating to integrate hands-on science lessons with our conservation mission. All in all, it was fun-filled summer for campers, students, teachers and staff alike of which you can see highlighted below.

If you are looking for a kid’s activity to do in these upcoming cold months, take part in this fun pinecone birdseed activity.

Parent Camper Quotes:

Its fabulous how you combine the outdoors with art and science!”

“My camper said it was "amazing" - and he doesn't say that about anything!”

“My camper had a great time. She came home every day talking about all the fun things she did that day and has been sharing the knowledge she gained from the program with the whole family. Thank you!”

Week 1: Animal Habitats, Ages 5-7

We had so much fun learning all about habitats! We explored what different animals need to survive, and how we can help protect and conserve different habitats for wildlife!

Week 2: Artful Aviary, Ages 7-9

Science and art combined this week at camp. each day out on our trail campers explored the fascinating and sometimes strange adaptations of birds through games and activities. The outrageous plumes of peacocks and the colorful bill of the Toucan are examples of bird adaptations that inspired campers to turn our classroom into an aviary of art in paintings, sculpture, drawings, and crafts.

Week 3: Fur, Feathers, Skin, & Scales, Ages 5-7

A perfect camp for animal loving kids! This camp was all about discovering the different groups of animals and the unique features that set them apart from each other. Each day of camp, we explored a different group of animals through hands-on investigations, story-telling, creative play, and craft projects. Campers imagined their own creative creatures and brought them to life through art!

Week 4: Art & Design of Adaptation, Ages 9-12

Do you ever wonder how things work? Do you like to build things, or take things apart to discover their parts? During this week at camp, we took a close look at how nature solves problems through adaptation, and how people can solve problems by mimicking nature. We put our design and engineering capabilities to the test in a series of fun challenges! Campers experimented with flying, floating, and sturdy creations.

Week 5: All About Bugs, Ages 5-7

Insects are cool! This summer was a perfect time for going on bug hunts and learning about fascinating insects like butterflies, bees, ants, and beetles. We broke out butterfly nets, bug jars, and magnifiers and took a close-up look at these little animal friends in a safe and humane way. Campers learned about insect pollinators, built a bug, competed in caterpillar races, and more!

Week 6: Super Plants, Ages 7-10

The Super Plants camp week brimmed with hands-on experiments, outdoor activities and games for campers to delve into the science of the “super power” of plants: Photosynthesis! We got delightfully dirty as we experimented with mud and soil. We harnessed the energy of the sun in art and design projects. We cooled off as we experimented with the properties of water. We got green thumbs in our wildlife garden with Master Gardeners! Each camper took home their own plant thanks to donations from Plants of The Southwest.  Oh, and of course, we played in the forest and built forts too!

Week 7: Ecology, Grossology, Ages 9-12

Scat. Mold. Fungus. Gas. Slime. Mucus... Gross-tastic! This week we focused some of the grossest aspects of nature. We investigated the connection between grossology– the “study” of all things gross- and ecology—the study of living things and their environment. What’s the point of farts and burps? Why are snails slimy? We explored these questions and more in a series of investigations, experiments, and craft projects.  

Week 8: Nature Sprouts, Ages 5-7

Our wildlife garden and sanctuary trails are the perfect place for the budding botanist to learn about plants– from what they need to grow to their importance for people and animals. Nature Sprouts campers had tons of plant fun during this week of scientific exploration. Activities included games, hands-on gardening, flower dissection, and scavenger hunts.

Week 9: Nature Detectives, Ages 7-10

Mysteries abounded at the Audubon Center and only trained Nature Detectives put the pieces of the puzzle together during this week. A Nature’s Detective’s mission, of which they all accepted, was to collect daily clues and evidence from the sanctuary and solve mysteries of the forest. Each day, in addition to games, arts & crafts, and outdoor play, campers had a fresh mystery to solve.

“I have been along on many school trips and camp experiences with my children and grandchildren, but rarely have I seen teachers/counselors with such joyful enthusiasm and energy, depth of experience with their subject, and skill in helping children learn with delight and engagement.” Summer Camp Grandparent

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