Department of Parks
State Park Junior Naturalist Program Teaches Children About Nature And Outdoor Skills
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Fourteen young people from Kentucky and four other states have spent part of their summer learning about nature and outdoor skills at Pennyrile State Resort Park in Western Kentucky.
These youngsters earned their Junior Naturalist badge and certificate by completing a course that’s offered at Pennyrile and several other Kentucky State Parks during the summer for school-age children.
“I think that the program is important because it helps to promote a life-long love of nature and the outdoors,” said Naturalist Becky Clark, who works at Pennyrile near Dawson Springs. “The program is also a fun way to keep children thinking about science while school is not in session.”
The requirements for the Junior Naturalist program vary from park to park, but there are three areas that must be covered, according to state park Naturalist Carey Tichenor. Those three are nature identification, a sensory activity in which the child writes or uses art to describe nature and an outdoor skill such as orienteering.
“Each park can create a program based on what’s in the park,” said Tichenor. “Some parks add a service project.”
At Pennyrile this summer, children have learned to fish, picked up trash, camped, and learned about insects and reptiles. Other topics offered at other parks include knot tying, archery, tree identification and building bird houses.
The Junior Naturalist program is free and is offered to children who are staying at the park. Age ranges vary by park, but usually starts with elementary-age children through middle school.
These parks currently offer the Junior Naturalist program Memorial Day through Labor Day. (Offerings and schedule vary by park. Please check in advance by calling the park naturalist):
Barren River State Resort Park
Carter Caves State Resort Park
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
Kenlake State Resort Park
Lake Barkley State Resort Park
Pennyrile State Resort Park
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov