Programs and Workshops for All Ages
K-12 School Field Trips
~ Park Department offers this throughout the academic year ~
Through this program students learn about flora, fauna, and natural processes during their educational adventure at Cachuma Lake. The Nature Center is a partner with the Parks Department in this program. School groups are offered a lake cruise, nature walk, and docent-led tour of the Nature Center. Schools throughout Santa Barbara County participate, with over 3,600 students from 65 schools visiting last year. It is a trip of discovery for students that visit, many of whom have never been on a boat or walked with an expert naturalist along a nature path. These discovery experiences are reinforced by a visit to the Nature Center, where students will have opportunities to explore in-depth what they have learned outside.
Fish Derby ~ April ~
The Fish Derby is a two-day annual fishing event held on Saturday and Sunday in April. To participate in the Fish Derby, registration is required before or during the event. Cash prizes are awarded for different categories of fish caught in Cachuma Lake, and merchandise prizes are distributed throughout the event. Participants of all ages are welcome, and there is a fee required for participation. More information and a downloadable registration form can be found at www.TroutDerby.org.
Each May, the Nature Center hosts an organization that offers an exhibit of live animals. Participants of all ages have the opportunity to learn about and have an up-close look at native animals. This is a free event for all participants.
Adult Fishing Workshop ~ June ~
The Adult Fishing Workshop offers adults the opportunity to learn the basics of fishing. The workshop begins with a short talk on fishing and an introduction of the workshop volunteer anglers. There are 5-6 stations and groups of attendees rotate in for a 15-20 minute lessons, including tying knots, types of fish in Cachuma Lake, bow fishing, saltwater fishing, casting, where to fish on the lake, and fly-fishing. Expert anglers teach this fun workshop. Attendance is limited to 30. There is a small fee for this event.
Kids Fishing Workshop ~ August ~
Offered in August, the workshop allows kids to learn some of the basics of fishing. The program begins with a short talk on fishing in general and an introduction of teachers for the day. There are five or so stations to which small groups then rotate for a 15-20 minute lesson. Children learn about tying knots, kinds of fish in the lake, saltwater fishing, casting, where to fish on the lake, and fly fishing. Volunteer anglers participate in teaching the kids these fundamentals. Santa Barbara County Fish and Game Commission underwrites these workshops. Attendance is limited to 50 kids ages 7 - 15. There is no fee for this event. Contact us at Julie@clnaturecenter.org to register!
The Neal Taylor Nature Center "Trout in the Classroom" is a program designed to allow visitors, including local school children on field trips, to experience raising trout in an up-close, first-hand environment. Visitors are able to observe raising trout from eggs to fry and Nature Center volunteers are on hand to answer questions. The final result is an aquarium full of trout fry, each over one inch in length that will eventually be released to a pre-approved site by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. We have two sessions every year that span from 2 – 4 months in length.
The "Trout in the Classroom" program is sponsored by The Santa Barbara Fly-fishers club. The club has been an active Trout in the Classroom (TIC) supporter for many years and sponsors two TIC sessions per year involving many local schools on the central coast in addition to the Nature Center. Trout eggs are picked up from the Fillmore Hatchery and personally delivered to each participating location. The final result is an aquarium full of trout fry that are released into a state-approved body of water. This program's goal is to reconnect an increasingly urbanized population of youth to the system of streams, rivers and watersheds that sustain them. It is one of the living exhibits at the Nature Center and is a favorite.s at the Nature Center and is a favorite.
Creepy Creatures ~ October ~
In celebration of Halloween, local volunteers showcase their Creepy Creatures; live bats, snakes, scorpions, spiders, and owls. There are also exhibits of animal bones, skulls and preserved specimens. Witches serve popcorn and punch and there is face-painting, too! This free event is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara Parks Department and the Santa Barbara Zoo.
Food for Thought is a lecture series generally held on a Sunday afternoon. It is offered by the Nature Center for adults interested in learning about topics specific to the local area. Lecturers by experts are held on local topics, such as Native-American culture and language, plants, animals, local history, and the environment. This event is free.
Project Feeder Watch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. As part of this program – volunteers at the Neal Taylor Nature Center periodically count the birds they see at the Center’s feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project Feeder Watch at the Cornell Lab. The Cornell Lab is part of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY. Feeder Watch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
Going "Batty" at the Nature Center ~ Every Saturday Evening ~ Memorial Day Weekend Through Labor Day Weekend ~
Start times are at dusk and depend on the time of year but range between 7 and 8 p.m. Meet at the picnic tables in front of the Nature Center for a FREE docent-led talk and living exhibit of our local bats and watch them come out to feed. The presentation will be made by a Nature Center docent.