MVFN Young Naturalists

MVFN’s Young Naturalists’ (YN) program is  a fun program designed for kids aged 6 to 11 with a keen interest in and curiosity about the natural world around them!

It aims to develop and expand the interests of the children in the natural world with the hopes that they may grow to be lifelong naturalists and citizen scientists.

The Young Naturalist (YN) group typically meets the first Saturday of each month (for 4 or 5 Saturdays, depending on whether it is the Fall or the Winter/Spring program)  at the Mill of Kintail near Almonte, to explore a new nature-themed topic. Topics have included, insects, weather, reptiles, snow studies, leaves and many more! The program, currently well into its third full year, has yet to deliver the same topic more than once!

Response to the program has been extremely enthusiastic and enrollment has grown to require 2 groups for each Saturday session of the program:

Session A:   9:00 am to 10:45 am

Session B:   11:00 am to 12:45 pm

Each 105 minute session includes a short interactive presentation, several hands-on activities, and a take home craft or activity. To ensure optimal success and safety, each session has a maximum of 15 children and sessions are led by Program Leader, Patty McLaughlin, and at least 2 additional Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist adult Volunteers.

Patty McLaughlin (B.Sc. Zoology and M.Sc. from 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. She has recently created and implemented an educational outreach program to offer to local schools which has been extremely well-received!

To guide the children on their adventures, handouts are given out each session. Their “personalized nature journals” are also equipped with blank and lined paper as well as sheet covers to store any ‘neat’ piece of nature they may find.  The Young Naturalists record all of their observations both at the sessions and at home in their nature journals provided by the program.

Each session concludes with a craft or take home activity to extend the learning, help the kids remember the session, or just for fun! For example, the kids have created their own barometers to predict pressures systems, toad-abodes to encourage toads to live in their gardens, reconstructed a mouse skeleton from bones in an owl pellet, made their very own fossils and many more unique nature crafts!

Our Meeting Place – The Mill of Kintail

Located less than 10 minutes from Almonte, The Mill of Kintail is home to 154 acres of mixed old forest and field habitat along the Indian River. The Young Naturalists group gathers in either the Gatehouse Meeting Room, a spacious indoor teaching space, or, the Education Classroom, in another building and filled with field guides and taxidermy displays. From either location, it is but a short hike to the river and forest trails which offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery!


Program costs are covered in part by MVFN’s Environmental Education Program and thus registration costs are kept relatively low.

Cost: $75/child (for all 5 Winter/Spring Sessions) or $60/child (for all 4 Fall sessions).

For more information, or to register, please contact:

Program Leader Patty McLaughlin:

Previous Years  Young Naturalists News

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