May is an exciting time in Ellensburg. The farmers market begins, gardeners get busy with their craft, the warmer weather gets us excited to be outside again. I couldn’t think of a better time to explore our amazing Kittitas County than in the budding season of spring.
And lucky for you, KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network) has some amazing programs lined up that will let you and your family experience what an incredible place we live in.First up is the Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest from Friday through Sunday. This three-day excursion through the Yakima Canyon, sponsored by KEEN in partnership with the Kittitas Audubon Society and the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club, offers field trips, lectures, social events, and a keynote speaker and dinner.
Our focus? The birds, of course!The Yakima Canyon hosts some of the highest densities of songbirds in the state and spring is prime season to see them yourself. Learn to identify species, use special equipment, even searching our night skies for birds and bats.2018 is the Year of the Bird, marking the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As an integral part of our environmental systems, birds not only provide a key in maintaining natural balances, but their unique behaviors, social structures, and plumage make them one of the most entertaining and accessible animal to study. And you don’t have to be a professional scientist to do just that. So, join KEEN and our sponsors, as well as our keynote speaker, John Marzluff, as we explore the intimate and fascinating world of birds! Check out ycic.org for tickets and all the information you’ll need to plan your trip.
And if that isn’t enough excitement for your Mothers Day weekend, our annual Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe event is sure to be. Our 19th anniversary event on Saturday is your ticket to everything that has, is, and will happen in our Yakima Canyon. This free, family event hosts field trips galore, from beavers and wildflowers, to snakes and the rocks themselves. Bring your whole family to this amazing event, hosted at the Umtanum Recreation Area and by your neighborhood KEEN family. Visit ycic.org for all the details for this free day of field trips, including field trip times.As always, spring brings about the anticipation of summer in ourselves and especially, our kids. We start thinking about what we can do to engage them throughout the summer, since no child wants to spend three months staring at a screen. Luckily KEEN has the answer.
Pond to Pines Summer Camp is a unique experience in Kittitas County, combining traditional camp activities with engaging educational opportunities that is sure to stimulate the mind of every child. KEEN has always embodied the ideals of teaching “how” to think, rather than “what” to think, believing that nurturing active and creative minds is the way to a brighter future. Pond to Pines is an unforgettable experience for children in Kittitas County and beyond to learn about our local environment, our plants and animals, ways to keep our planet healthy, and skills that promote social confidence and intelligent communication.
By providing a fun learning environment, KEEN strives to encourage kids to think outside of the box while exploring their natural world.We are offering nine weeks of exciting themed camps for children ages 5-14, experiences they are sure to get nowhere else. Head to ycic.org to register your child today for KEEN’s exceptional outdoor education experience.KEEN welcomes community support to “Send a Kid to Camp” in the hopes that every child in our community can have equal access to avoid the summer slide.
Summer camp is a special type of community where kids come together to have fun. Within the camp setting, children develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home. Summer camps are known for providing a safe environment where children gain self-confidence as they learn new skills. Camp is also a place where children develop a variety of social skills (e.g., communication, conflict resolution, and building new friendships).
Find out how to support “Send a Kid to Camp” on our website at ycic.org.
Spring is here in Kittitas County. Explore your world, get outside, and have fun.
Carlyn Moser has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She is a KEEN board member and secretary.