May 22, 2017

Get Outside: 4 Fun “Junior” Programs (Badges!)

junior paleontology program2Okay, so I’ve written about the Junior Ranger program many, many times before, but there are other “junior” programs to be enjoyed at our state and national parks and forests, including a Junior Smokejumper program at Yellowstone National Park. I just heard about this program last week, and wow, so cool. Take a look at four fun “junior” programs your kids will love:

1. Junior Smokejumper: Yes, through the end of September, kids six and up can learn about smokejumpers and fire-fighting in Yellowstone National Park. Kids can check out the equipment used and get briefed on what’s required to take on land fires in this two-hour Junior Smokejumper program.

2. Junior Paleontologist: For kids who like fossils and dinosaurs, the Junior Paleontologist program is a must. I first learned about this program when visiting Badlands National Park in South Dakota last summer. Kids simply complete an activity booklet at any of our national parks that preserve fossils.

3. Junior Park Naturalist: Many states, including Minnesota and South Dakota, have Junior Park Naturalist programs for kids ages seven to 12. These programs are great ways for kids to explore the ecology and habitats of their state parks. Complete a variety of activities to earn a patch or certificate.

4. Junior Forest Ranger: While the National Park Service offers the Junior Ranger program, the U.S. Forest Service has a Junior Forest Ranger program. Download an adventure guide that your kids can complete wherever they are. Mail in the completed activity booklet and receive an embroidered badge, a pin and a Junior Forest Ranger card.

Have your kids tried out any of the above “junior” programs? Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: NPS Paleontology

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