Department of Environmental Conservation

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Kids GO (Get Outside)

Learn About the Environment

Nature Activity Guides

Welcome to DEC's web pages just for youth and their adults. We have some great resources you (or your adult!) can print and take with you as you explore outside. Take a hike with a nature bingo card, record observations in your very own nature journal or bird book, learn about our state symbols and so much more. Whatever your interests, there are plenty of ways to enjoy being outside and to learn about the environment.

A young girl in a pink blouse dips a net in a lily pond
Search for critters in the lily pond
at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve
and Environmental Education Center

Environmental Education Centers

Anyone and everyone can help to protect and conserve the environment. Start by simply spending time outside in nature. Explore your yard or neighborhood, or a nearby park. DEC staffs two environmental education (EE) centers and has cooperative agreements with two Friends groups to operate two more:

All offer walking trails and guided programs for families to explore the outdoors together. Programs are also offered for school and youth groups.

Young women practice shooting while overseen by an Environmental Conservation Officer
Hunter education classes are offered
at DEC Environmental Education Camps

Environmental Education Camps

If you want an in-depth outdoor experience and you're between 11 and 17 years old, a week at one of DEC's four summer environmental education camps may be just right. These overnight camps are located in the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and western New York. Attending a DEC environmental education camp is a great way to learn about conservation, environmental issues and careers in conservation, and to connect with the natural world.

Youth Hunting and Trapping Opportunities

There are lots of great opportunities for young people to enjoy the beauty of nature, while out with an experienced adult during several youth hunting and trapping weekends each year. The goal of the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Program is to sustain hunting and trapping participation and its associated recreational and wildlife conservation benefits, but the ultimate goal is the passing down of tradition, knowledge, and experiences from one generation to the next, and spending quality time with friends and family outdoors. Young hunters can sign up to take a free hunter safety course in a location nearby- classes fill up quickly so sign up early!

Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program

The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program (see link in right column of this page) is an art and science curriculum designed to teach youngsters about environmental science and habitat conservation. Across the country, students from kindergarten through grade 12 pick a species of waterfowl, learn about its natural history and habitat needs and then paint it. For the contest, students compete in one of four grade categories: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The national winner receives a $2500 prize.

More about Kids GO (Get Outside):

  • Junior Naturalist Program - This page contains information about the Junior Naturalist Program found at the NYSDEC Forest Preserve campgrounds.