Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office Connecting People with Nature
A connection with nature, whether it’s hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, or simply being outside, helps people develop positive attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Positive interactions with the environment as children can lead to a life-long interest in enjoying and preserving nature. People’s interest in nature is crucial to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) mission of conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats.
In 2005, Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods – (Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” shared his research findings on the value of connecting people with nature with the USFWS, prompting us to consider how our mission is being threatened by the American public’s declining interaction with nature. In response to this challenge, the USFWS adopted, “Connecting People with Nature: Ensuring the Future of Conservation” as one of its six national priorities. The USFWS has made a commitment to expand its efforts to create opportunities for people to become involved in a positive way with the natural world, encouraging a personal stake in the care of our natural resources.
The Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (Yreka FWO) is currently developing a Connecting People with Nature (CPWN) program to engage the people and communities of Siskiyou County in nature-related activities. Existing CPWN programs and activities through the Yreka FWO include:
- French Creek Outdoor School: Yreka FWO assists the French Creek Outdoor School by leading activities and teaching ecological concepts to groups of students from local elementary schools. Curriculum topics from previous activities include forest succession, food webs, plant identification, guided creek walks, aquatic species identification, and practicing observational skills in nature.
- Involving Youth with Nature: Seventh grade students from Dunsmuir Elementary School learned about stream ecology and macroinvertebrate identification from Yreka FWO staff during their Castle Creek Ecology Day.
- Discovery School Career Day: Students from Discovery School visited the Yreka FWO to learn about careers opportunities with the FWS.
- Natural History Field Trips: The Yreka FWO assists with natural history field trips for elementary and middle school students.
- California State Fair: Yreka FWO staff join USFWS personnel from throughout California and Nevada to staff the USFWS exhibit at the California State Fair. The USFWS exhibit provides a chance for the public to meet and talk with those often unknown federal employees who are responsible for the nation's rare species. Casual conversation with employees helps the public better understand and appreciate the work of the USFWS. Activities at the exhibit encourage families to participate in a variety of activities including making salmon egg bracelets, touch tables, and learning about California’s rare species.
- Kids and Bugs: Sponsored by the Bear Creek Watershed Council, Yreka FWO staff assists with the "Kids and Bugs" education program which teaches youth about stream macroinvertebrates, salmon life cycle, fly-tying, and fly casting.
- Forestry Institute for Teachers: The northern California Forestry Institute for Teachers is an educational camp, sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension Office, to educate 1st- through 12-grade teachers in forest resources and ecology. Teachers are also provided with curricula to use in their classrooms. The Yreka FWO sends a biologist to teach stream and fisheries ecology in the field.
- Science Fun Day: Students from Jackson Street and Gold Street Elementary Schools lean about wildlife biology and conservation from Yreka FWO biologists during Siskiyou County Office of Education’s Science Fun Day fairs. Activities include identification of animal skulls, wildlife detection methods, wildlife conservation, and a presentation on “Illegal Wildlife Trade."
- Middle Klamath Watershed Education Program: The Middle Klamath Watershed Education Program provides education opportunities during both the summer and school year, with the participation of natural and cultural resources professionals from Federal and State agencies, the Karuk Tribe, the Salmon River Restoration Council, and the Mid Klamath Watershed Council. Youth are taken on excursions to the Klamath River and into mixed conifer forests with experienced local instructors and licensed insured river guides. On these field trips Yreka FWO biologists participate in teaching students about geology, hydrology, botany, wildlife, aquatic biology, and fisheries. Students learn about forest succession and management, fire ecology, traditional cultural resource management, and current resource issues in the Mid-Klamath region. Under the supervision of resource professionals, students participate in restoration projects such as fish passage improvement, river clean up, noxious weed removal, hazardous fuels reduction, tree planting, and erosion prevention. The goal of the program is to inspire local youth to pursue careers in habitat restoration so they can earn a livelihood in the region while improving the condition of Mid-Klamath natural resources.
To learn about the USFWS "Let's Go Outside" initiative to connect children with nature, click here.