On June 25, Jannette Santiago and Scott Fisher led the first Junior Naturalist Program of the summer season at the Idyllwild Nature Center. Photo by Sally Hedberg

The Idyllwild Nature Center has announced the topics for its summer Junior Naturalist Programs. Children, ages 7 to 11 years, can engage in a number of educational and fun nature programs for a cost of $3 per child. Each session will be limited to 20 participants on a first-come basis. All programs are held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Children get the opportunity to explore, investigate, observe, evaluate and draw conclusions about their environment. They will learn how sustainability works and their role in conserving their natural surroundings.

The next program is July 2 and features the “Water Cycle: What comes around, goes around.” Children will discover what water means to our planet and how to conserve and keep it clean. Pollution, acid rain and garbage will be the focus of several experiments. The Junior Naturalists will take a nature hike to the creek to see what lives there and why it’s called a Riparian Zone.

The following Saturday, July 9, promises to be entertaining and informative when Shelley Kibby, park interpreter, introduces two Nature Center residents, Sheldon the box turtle and Tilly the tortoise. The subject is “Tough Turtles through Time.” The children will be able to observe the similarities and differences between the two species.

“Beyond Predictions” is the third program on July 23. Kibby plans to let children test new ideas and use predictions to form some surprising conclusions based on whether something will sink or float.

The final program this month, July 30, centers on a variety of hands-on learning stations about the environment. The program is cleverly called “Enviothoning.”

The series will continue in August. All programs include crafts, naturalist hikes and snacks. For more information about the Junior Naturalist Program or other activities at the Nature Center, call (951) 659-3850 or visit the website www.idyllwildnaturecenter.net.