Kids GO (Get Outside)
Learn About the Environment
Nature Activity Guides
Welcome to DEC's web pages just for youth and their adults. We have some great resources you (or your adult!) can print and take with you as you explore outside. Take a hike with a nature bingo card, record observations in your very own nature journal or bird book, learn about our state symbols and so much more. Whatever your interests, there are plenty of ways to enjoy being outside and to learn about the environment.
Environmental Education Centers
Anyone and everyone can help to protect and conserve the environment. Start by simply spending time outside in nature. Explore your yard or neighborhood, or a nearby park. DEC staffs two environmental education (EE) centers and has cooperative agreements with two Friends groups to operate two more:
- Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar (Albany County) and
- Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center in Depew (Erie County)
- Rogers EE Center in Sherburne (Chenango County) operated by Friends of Rogers (leaves DEC's website)
- Stony Kill Farm EE Center in Wappingers Falls (Dutchess County) operated by Stony Kill Foundation (leaves DEC's website)
All offer walking trails and guided programs for families to explore the outdoors together. Programs are also offered for school and youth groups.
Environmental Education Camps
If you want an in-depth outdoor experience and you're between 11 and 17 years old, a week at one of DEC's four summer environmental education camps may be just right. These overnight camps are located in the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and western New York. Attending a DEC environmental education camp is a great way to learn about conservation, environmental issues and careers in conservation, and to connect with the natural world.
Youth Hunting and Trapping Opportunities
There are lots of great opportunities for young people to enjoy the beauty of nature, while out with an experienced adult during several youth hunting and trapping weekends each year. The goal of the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Program is to sustain hunting and trapping participation and its associated recreational and wildlife conservation benefits, but the ultimate goal is the passing down of tradition, knowledge, and experiences from one generation to the next, and spending quality time with friends and family outdoors. Young hunters can sign up to take a free hunter safety course in a location nearby- classes fill up quickly so sign up early!
Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program (see link in right column of this page) is an art and science curriculum designed to teach youngsters about environmental science and habitat conservation. Across the country, students from kindergarten through grade 12 pick a species of waterfowl, learn about its natural history and habitat needs and then paint it. For the contest, students compete in one of four grade categories: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The national winner receives a $2500 prize.
- Junior Naturalist Program - This page contains information about the Junior Naturalist Program found at the NYSDEC Forest Preserve campgrounds.