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Environmental Education

Marsh Madness

Purpose and Goals

Friends of the Refuge's Environmental Education Committee encourages awareness and appreciation of the Refuge through participation of students and community members in educational activities.

Our goals:

  • Provide every student in the local school districts an opportunity for a meaningful visit to the refuge during their K-12 education.

  • Provide educational support and resources to Refuge.

  • Support development and maintenance of the Blue Heron Trails and the Little Green Heron Playscape as key resources for environmental education of students and community members.

Friends of Stone Lakes NWR Educational Activities

  • Blue Heron Trails visits

  • Little Green Heron Playscape visits (in development)

  • Annual Nature Bowl

  • Participate in Walk on the Wildside Outdoor Festival and Bufferlands Spring Tour

Blue Heron Trails and Little Green Heron Playscape Update

Since this property lies on the south side of Hood-Franklin Road only a mile west of Interstate 5, Blue Heron Trails is the main visitor use area for the Refuge. It is open from dawn until dusk seven days a week. Visitors and school groups can experience Central Valley habitat and wildlife practically right outside their own backyard! The Little Green Heron Playscape, located near by, is now open and offers the youngest visitors similar hands-on experiences and activities.

Little Green Heron Playscape Update

Nature Bowl

In Spring 2013, Friends of the Refuge sponsored our first annual Nature Bowl, in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Located at the Refuge’s Blue Heron Trails outdoor visitor area, it’s a fun learning experience with teams of elementary students from nearby schools working together to find answers to on-the-ground environment-related questions. The students get to experience nature in what is almost their own back yard. 

Friends of the Refuge looks forward to hosting the Nature Bowl event again at the Refuge’s Blue Heron Trails site as soon as COVID-19 restrictions permit. When the event is held, teams of students in grades 3/4 and 5/6 demonstrate their knowledge of local and regional environments by working together to solve problems in the following events: Bell-Ringer, Enviro-mercial, Nature Investigations, Nature Relay and Team Problems.  Teams are 3-7 students and can be sponsored by a school or a community organization.

Examples of Environmental Education

  • Wetland restoration by ecology classes

  • Planted native grasses and plants

  • Chemistry students collected data on water quality

  • High school students mentored elementary students for Marsh Madness

  • Designed touch tables

  • Raised funds for the Refuge

  • Worked on habitat restoration at Blue Heron Trails 

  • Participated in Wild About Learning open house to showcase science learning

Ride to the Refuge

Friends of the Refuge have a grant program to provide transportation for school groups to and from the Refuge.

Recent Partners Include

Friends of the Refuge and Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge realize the importance of collaboration with local agencies and nonprofits to accomplish their goals.

High Schools

Franklin, Calvine, Luther Burbank


Elementary Schools

Stone Lake, Joseph Sims, Delta Charter, Edna Batey, David Reese, Samuel Kennedy, Anna Kirchgater, Herman Leimbach, Isabelle Jackson, Charles Mack, and Montessori


Other Organizations

The Elk Grove Unified School District, SPLASH, Laguna Creek Watershed Council, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association, CA Project Wild, California Native Plant Society, Nature Conservancy, Cosumnes River Preserve, Sacramento Tree Foundation, Florin Resource Conservation District, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America


If you would like to get involved promoting environmental education, become a volunteer and participate in the planning, development and implementation of the Association's environmental education programs.

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