Junior Forester Academy
Children ages 9-10 welcome!
The Junior Forester Academy (JFA) is the first step in the Centennial Forest’s Environmental Education Program. JFA offers a hands-on introduction to the world of forestry and environmental science, connecting youth to the outdoors so that they can learn and teach others about environmental stewardship, land ethics and forest health.
JFA is a week-long, overnight program with healthy meals and snacks provided. Our number one goal is to have fun while exploring the forest! Campers will learn how to measure forest biodiversity, tree diameters and how to identify native and exotic plants. They will create walking sticks, help with ecological restoration, participate in the Logger Olympics and much more!
The educational goals of JFA draw from NAU’s internationally recognized School of Forestry and include forest health and restoration, wildfire risk and prevention, map and compass skills, wildlife, and American Indian history! Campers learn important lessons through an integrated, hands-on curriculum that allows kids to explore, discover, and learn about the environment while also reinforcing their math, reading, writing, and language skills.
The focal point of the week is crew-based forestry plot projects where campers spend time each day measuring forest characteristics so that at the end of the week they can present their data and make stewardship recommendations. Campers will learn how to measure and record forest attributes such as tree species, height and diameter, plant biodiversity, squirrel habitat suitability, and risk of fire. These presentations encourage kids to combine creativity and critical thinking skills to interpret and communicate what they have learned throughout the week!
Another facet of our curriculum allows for campers to meet professionals in the natural resource field through interactive and informative presentations. Our guest speakers provide educational talks in their areas of expertise along with insight into how they developed a career in natural resources. Our knowledgeable speakers range from Arizona Game and Fish, Forest Service, Flagstaff Fire Department, Ecological Restoration Institute and of course our own world-class NAU Forestry faculty.
The most important emphasis of our curriculum is to have fun while learning. Special care is taken to engage every child in the wonder and beauty of nature. To encourage creativity, we integrate art and games into the schedule for each day. The games we play are geared toward physical activity and the environment. We hope that campers will take the positive experience from camp and translate that into a lifetime of healthy choices that benefit our community and help improve our environment.
Conclusion of the program
On the last day, campers participate in the excitement and challenge of the Logger Olympics, where they get to put the skills they have learned all week to the test. Events of the Olympics include plant identification, orienteering, log tossing, tug-o-war, sawing tree cookies, survival skills, and more.
After the Olympics have concluded and tree-cookie “medals” are awarded, a small graduation ceremony and pizza party is enjoyed by all campers. This is a wonderful way to end the session because we make sure everyone is recognized and awarded for all of their accomplishments and personal contributions during the week!