Kids in Nature

Photo credit: Seth Beres/US Fish & Wildlife

Nature surrounds all of us, whether you live in the city or suburbs, near the mountains, desert, or along the coast. The responsibility lies with each of us to educate ourselves and our families about the types of animals living in the area, discuss potential dangers, as well as what to do if there is a close encounter with wildlife. It is never too early or too late to teach children, family and friends about the importance of co-existence with wildlife. There are many ways to get the entire family involved in exploring what the natural world has to offer.

Here you can find out about wildlife activities and clubs in your area, participate in a citizen science project, or start thinking about a career in wildlife education, conservation or exotic animal management. Discover the different ways you and your family can get involved with programs and offerings in your area!

Science projects the whole family can do!!

Beach Cleanup

Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in research to increase scientific knowledge and understanding. Citizen-science projects typically include wildlife-monitoring programs, online databases, visualization and sharing technologies, or other community efforts.

  • The Lost Ladybug Project began when biologists began to notice that over the last two decades, the ladybug species found across North America began to change, and now native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare (Cornell University). The Lost Ladybug Project asks you to help find out where all the ladybugs have gone and why, so they can try to prevent more native species from becoming rare.
  • Live in an area with fireflies? The Boston Museum of Science Firefly Watch project might be perfect for you! Very little is known about why these amazing insects are disappearing at alarming rates. You can help scientists learn more about the geographic distribution of fireflies, their activity during the summer season, and how they may be negatively impacted by human-made light and pesticides in lawns.
  • Journey North Monarch Butterfly survey works to track migrating butterflies on their annual hibernation journey each year. Report your sightings each fall and spring as the monarchs travel to and from Mexico, track migration on real-time migration maps, and help scientists learn more about monarchs and understand why they seem to be disappearing.
  • At the Natural Museum of History of Los Angeles Local Citizen Science, you can be a part of numerous nation-wide research projects like the Spider Survey, Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California, Los Angeles Butterfly Survey, and ZomBee Watch.
  • Frog Watch USA is a nation-wide citizen science program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that provides individuals, groups, and families with an opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads.
  • For additional resources and other citizen science project listings across the country, visit the National Wildlife Federation Citizen Science.

Southern California nature-based field trips

In Southern California, there are endless outdoor and nature-based field trips you can take to explore the different ecosystems and species found in your area. From attending an educational program with the entire family to going on a naturalist-led interpretive hike to getting involved in a cleanup effort in your area or participating in community wildlife education efforts. These are some of the ways you can get the entire family involved with wildlife in a hands-on way.