Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Young Naturalists – Enjoying Winter in a Pandemic

The Young Naturalist Program of MVFN has had to pivot like many others. To lessen the burden of COVID safety responsibility and focus on offering interesting, educational nature themed content it will not be  a drop-off program for the foreseeable future.


Rather it is a family (or learning pod) event where children can learn about nature. Children are to be supervised by their parent/guardian, not a YN volunteer. This will allow families to learn and experience different aspects of nature in a safe environment.

The first session will have a number of stations:

  • Challenge your family to a obstacle course in the snow!
  • Wander through the pine forest to ID animal tracks (hopefully real ones but we will be hiding photos of tracks throughout the forest with fun animal facts)
  • Take a minute to challenge your eyes in a “search and find” activity practiced by real search and rescue volunteers.
  • Stan Hollaway will teach participants how to start a fire with common items in nature.
  • And finally, a take home snowflake crystal craft.

Also, you are welcome to explore the trails for the duration of the event but must return them to the gatehouse by noon.

Families may pick and choose the stations that appeal most to their interests and age. This will allow participants to spread out and maintain social distancing.


Location: Mill of Kintail
Date: March 6, 2021
Time: between 10 a.m. and noon.
Cost: $15 per child, $5 per adult. Please bring the exact change to limit contact with volunteers.


If you would like to participate, you must register here. Attendance is limited to 25 individuals. A waiting list will be created once this number is reached.

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Young Naturalists Online

Hello, MVFN members!

As we all are accepting the realization that we must continue to physically distance ourselves from others MVFN is reaching out with a way to stay connected, promote learning, and share of our awesome nature discoveries with the young (and young at heart) people in our community.

Patty McLaughlin, our Young Naturalist Coordinator, has created a Google classroom as one way of achieving this! She will be re-creating parts of her winter program, plus adding new materials as the spring arrives.

One small catch:

You will need a personal Google account (ending in to access the classroom. If you do not have one or want to start one for your child, it is free. There is also a Google classroom app you can download if you have a family tablet/phone and it will make adding content very easy for you.

To sign up visit:

Once logged in find the + in the top right corner and the class code is: 2k2f6go

The classroom has a main page stream where you are welcome to post (pictures, questions, videos, resources etc.). Patty will post here frequently as well.

In the classwork tab, you will find different resources and learning units that you can do at home to continue learning at this time. This section will also grow over time 🙂

This upcoming week I encourage you to observe buds on trees or try growing something you find in your kitchen. Intro videos and resources available in the classwork tab.

We this classroom will continue to grow over time as we add new classwork content and we all share what we are doing through pictures, videos, comments on the mainstream page.
You are welcome to pass on the class code to anyone you think will benefit!

If you have any questions, comments or content you would like to add to the classwork page please email Patty at

Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep learning!

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Young Naturalists Registration 2019

Young Naturalists Fall registration is now open!

Registration for the Fall 2019 Young Naturalists program is now open! Do you know of a nature-loving 6 to 11-year-old? Consider enrolling them in MVFN’s Young Naturalist program. Each month we explore a new nature-themed topic through outdoor investigation, discussions, activities, and fun crafts!

All sessions are held at the Mill of Kintail.

The dates and topics for the fall session are:

Sept 14th: Aquatic invertebrates, down by the river
Oct 5th: Invasive species, mines and galleries
Nov 2nd: Animal traces and an Owl pellet dissection
Dec 7th: ** To be confirmed

Two session times:
9:00am – 10:45am
11:00am -12:45pm

Cost for all 4 sessions $60

If you are interested or have any questions please email Patty at. Space is limited and is filled on a first come first serve basis. Let us know you are interested today

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Registration now open for 2019 Winter/Spring MVFN Young Naturalists

NOTE: there are still spaces available in the 11 AM to 12:45 PM session; but the earlier session is now FULL

After another “wildly” successful fall, the MVFN Young Naturalists are gearing up to begin their five winter/spring sessions for 2019!

Each month we explore a new nature themed topic through outdoor investigation, discussions, activities, and fun crafts! YN sessions are for children between the ages of 6-11 with a keen sense of curiosity about the natural world around them.

Ready to get your hands dirty?  Here are the important details:

Meeting place: Mill of Kintail Conservation Area at 2854 Ramsay Concession 8, Almonte, ON

Session times:  9:00 AM -10:45 AM (Note: this session is now FULL) OR 11:00 AM to 12:45 PM

2019 winter/spring dates, and topics the Young Naturalists will explore!

Feb 2: Food chains and food webs with a focus on generalists and specialists. We will do this session on snowshoes! Snowshoes will be provided for all Young Naturalists for use during the session.

March 2: Snow

April 6: Plant anatomy and gardening

May 4: Ecological interactions: symbiotic relationships and invasive species

June 1: Moths and Butterflies, nature exploration day

Cost: $75 per child for all five sessions

Space is limited and is filled on a first come first served basis.  Please let us know you are interested today to secure your Young Naturalists’ registration in this popular program!

Registration: To register and for further information, please contact program coordinator for MVFN, Patty McLaughlin, at  Let Patty know your interest and she will send you a registration form and answer questions.

See our Young Naturalists page for further information about the program.


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Last call for Young Naturalists Winter/Spring session registration

Registration for the 2018 Winter/Spring MVFN Young Naturalists (for children age 6-11) sessions is now open! These sessions run for 5 Saturdays. Spaces are going quickly and only one time slot has spaces remaining.

Each month we explore a new nature-themed topic through outdoor exploration, discussions, games and fun art activities. All sessions are held at the beautiful Mill of Kintail Conservation area. The cost for all five sessions is $75 and the topics planned are:

February 3

Animal tracks – on snowshoes (there will be enough snowshoes for everyone)

March 3

Weather and clouds

April 7

This session will feature a new presentation and activities from the Wild Bird Care Centre education program that I am currently developing.

May 5

The dirt on dirt

June 2

Reptiles and Amphibians

Session times:  11 AM – 12:45 PM (NOTE: the 9 AM – 10:45 AM session is now sold out for this session)

Cost: $75 covers all five sessions

If you are interested in registering for the 2018 Winter/Spring Young Naturalist sessions, or for more information, please contact me (Patty McLaughlin); send an email asap with the child’s name and your preferred session time to reserve a space. Send emails to:   Registration forms and payment are collected at the first session on February 3, 2018.

NOTE: Program coordinator Patty McLaughlin (B.Sc. Zoology and M.Sc. Carleton University) first volunteered at the Wild Bird Care Centre in Nepean as a high school student and presently works full-time at the Wild Bird Care Centre, caring for sick and injured birds. There she also created and implemented an educational outreach program to offer to local schools which was extremely well-received. Patty also developed the popular activities and program for our Young Naturalist sessions and has been conducting the MVFN Young Naturalist sessions since the program began in 2011.

Young Naturalists out on snowshoes at Mill of Kintail. photo P. McLaughlin

Grouse tracks in the snow. photo Howard Robinson Feb 2002

“Owl hold your spot” bookmarks from fall materials at a YN session.


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