Senior Forester Academy
NAU’s School of Forestry hosts this outdoor program for kids aged 11-12
SFA is the second step of our forestry education curriculum. SFA is also a week-long, overnight, all-healthy-meals included program. Campers build on what they learned as Junior Foresters and take the next step into discovering the forest-while having fun! Guided by experts, Seniors will identify songbirds, trap ground beetles and learn what significance they have on forest health. Finally, Seniors compete in an advanced Logger Olympics to test the skills they have learned all week!
SFA is the second step of our forestry education curriculum. SFA is also a week-long, overnight, all-healthy-meals included the program. Campers build on what they learned as Junior Foresters and take a day-long field trip down to West Clear Creek to learn about riparian ecology. The focal point of the curriculum for Seniors is surveying for songbirds in different forest types and then creating a presentation at the end of the week with their data and hypothesis. After the presentations, the campers will participate in an advanced Logger Olympics that will put the skills they learned during the week to the test!
Campers are guided by experts in the identification of local songbirds by sight and sound. They also employ the forest skills they mastered as Juniors to create hypotheses that can be tested throughout the week. At the end of the week, campers make posters with their data and hypotheses which they then present to the entire group.
Senior campers also participate in a learning service project restoring ponderosa pine stands that are infested with noxious weeds. Campers learn how to identify both native and exotic plants and learn how their presence, or absence, impacts our local ecosystem. After the exotic plants have been identified and removed, campers will then replace them with locally gown native grasses, trees, and wildflowers. The goal of this project is for campers to learn new environmental stewardship skills that they can teach to others and apply in their own communities and backyards. A favorite event of the week for campers and staff alike is our annual trip to West Clear Creek. Here campers hike through—-and learn about the ecology of—-a high-desert arroyo, investigate stream ecology, and cool off in one of Arizona’s rare perennial streams.
The finale of the Senior week is an advanced Logger Olympics. The events are similar to those experienced as Juniors, but with added events such as prey stalking.
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!