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Morgan Hill
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February 9, 2023

Santa Clara County Parks’ Junior Ranger program adds online events

Hybrid model encourages more youth participation in parks programs

The Santa Clara County Parks Junior Ranger program is ushering in the fall season with a series of free, interactive and virtual after-school sessions geared toward children ages 7-12. 

The newly expanded hybrid model—including both online and in-person sessions—features guest speakers, park tours, Q&A with Park Rangers and take-home activities that help to educate and familiarize students with local parks, according to a press release from Santa Clara County Parks.

“The Junior Ranger program emphasizes connections: It connects people with the parks, families with one another, and, most importantly, children with their environment,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “By adding a virtual component to the program, our County Parks takes the theme of connection one step further, engaging with students where they’re at and connecting with a diverse new audience of future junior rangers.”

The free virtual sessions are about 40 minutes long and hosted on the ZOOM platform. Advance registration is required. Signups are available by visiting the Junior Rangers page on the Santa Clara County Parks website, or by visiting https://tinyurl.com/2s4jkpev

Each participant who successfully completes at least three sessions will become an official Junior Ranger, earning a badge and certificate at a ceremony during the in-person Junior Ranger Family Day event in November.

“A world of excitement is waiting at the parks, but it is not always easy or even possible to fit in an outdoor excursion. Using this new format, the Junior Ranger program builds upon the success of our in-person program and now offers students a unique learning experience available from anywhere with a connected device,” said Don Rocha, Director of the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department.

When the online pilot program launched in fall 2021, children and families across the county joined the virtual events from a wide variety of locations and settings, including living rooms, after-school programs, and the backseat of their parents’ cars. The summer Junior Ranger program, which concluded in August 2022, provided opportunities for families to explore, learn about and respect nature at selected parks. 

Park Interpreter Rob McDonnell, one of the hosts for the fall programs, said about the events, “Each session features a Ranger covering a different topic. This past March, for example, we covered bald eagles. We also covered the many ‘hats’ of a Ranger, which can be anything from law enforcement, to firefighting, to public safety.”

McDonnell added, “One of the new sessions from Ranger Jackson that was really fun was about mountain lions because it blended both safety and wildlife information into one engaging event.”

The upcoming fall program focuses on how to keep our parks healthy while exploring topics important to all Rangers, such as bats, habitats, geology, and how to stay safe on a hike.

For more information, including details about October and November events in the Junior Ranger program, and to register, visit https://tinyurl.com/2s4jkpev

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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