Tag Archives: Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve

Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve: ‘Where Education Meets the Land’

By Zachary Phillips; photographs by Ernesto Rivera, editorial assistants—Public Affairs and Publications

Perspective Point overlooks the entirety of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.
Perspective Point overlooks the entirety of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.

By 10 a.m. on July 1what was supposed to be one of Chico’s hottest summer days —most people are shacked up inside an air-conditioned building or waist-deep in One Mile. Either of those seem like a distant reality, however, from where we’re standing—17 miles east of town in a workshop overlooking miles of creek and canyon, seconds away from sniffing an uncapped bottle of mountain lion urine. Continue reading Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve: ‘Where Education Meets the Land’

How a Flyer Changed my Life

By Leana Thompson, Senior, Natural Sciences

“Are you passionate about nature, science, or education?” I read on a green flyer on campus.

“Yes,” I thought.

“Do you seek to inspire the next generation to understand & care for our planet?”


“The Institute for Sustainable Development Outdoor Classroom NEEDS INTERNS!”

“YES!” I immediately wrote the date of an intern meeting listed on the flyer into my planner.

The fateful day I saw that flyer was nearly two years ago now and I’ve made many fond memories since with the Outdoor Classroom and the CSU, Chico ecological reserves where they take place. When I started with the Outdoor 2Classroom, we hosted field trips for third and fourth graders. Interns led third-grade students between four modules at Butte Creek Ecological Preserve. Third-grade modules included a Maidu Native American station, bird banding, Each One-Teach One native plant station and native turtle module.

Fourth-grade trips were held at Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and included a Maidu station, bird banding, a nature hike and an archeology station. I was hooked from the very first trip! Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they became little archeological explorers, released a bird, or learned how to make baskets with local Maidu tribe members let me know I was part of something amazing. I felt like a little kid again as I learned along with them. The knowledge that I was instrumental in providing these children with a hands-on, minds-on learning experience was so fulfilling, and I wanted to be as involved as possible.

The Reserves staff was completely supportive of my enthusiasm, and since my first day, I have had the joy of being involved in many capacities. As an intern coordinator for the Outdoor Classroom, I gained leadership skills, met like-minded peers and even got to be involved in assessing and developing modules.

1Interested in sharing the value of nature with people of all ages, I became involved in the reserves’ Hike Program. I earned class credit through an environmental literacy internship assisting the education and research coordinator extend the spring hike series through summer and fall. As a land stewardship intern I had the opportunity to work on restoration projects on the reserves, learning hands on about ecology and land management.

As a natural sciences major in the science education department, I found these internships invaluable in giving me experience in outdoor education, science, and leadership. Overall, I’ve learned more about the natural environment and how to effectively communicate its value to others in my time with the reserves than in any classroom setting.

The CSU, Chico Ecological Reserves are available to students as living laboratories for research and exploration of outdoor education, biology, geology, anthropology, and history, among others. Anyone interested in visiting the reserves can do so via the Reserve’s Naturalist Outings Series or Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserves Hunt Program, or as individuals, as both the reserve and preserve are open to public access.

Take a Hike!

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) fulfills a variety of important functions: it provides numerous opportunities for graduate student research projects from archaeology to zoology; it serves as an outdoor classroom for third and fourth grade students who learn about its flora and fauna within the framework of California State Science Standards and California E.E.I.; and it provides a setting for the general public, students and non-students, to learn the nuances of its ecology from a number of exceptional naturalists in our area.

Beginning March 17 students and the public will have the chance to experience some of the remote and beautiful treasures of the BCCER as we offer the first of our 2012 Spring Hikes. Thematic  hikes take place almost every weekend through May and range from general natural history hikes to more specific topic such as orienteering, soils and bird song. These hikes are offered only in the spring of each year and provide a rare opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge from experts in their respective fields.

Come hike through the spring colors and pack a lunch to enjoy along the creek. These hikes will vary in difficulty allowing an opportunity for everyone.

March Hikes 

•March 17th – Wildflowers, Geology, and Natural History (Strenuous)

•March 25th – Orienteering: Finding your Place in the BCCER (Strenuous)

•March 31st – Outdoor Survival Skills 1 (Moderate)

April Hikes 

•April 8th – Flower Identification (Moderate)

•April 14th – Wildflowers, Geology, and Natural History (Strenuous)

•April 22nd – Spring Bird Identification (Moderate)

•April 28th – Identifying Spring Bird Song (Moderate)

May Hikes 

•May 5th – Outdoor Survival Skills 2 (Moderate)

•May 19th – Soils, Landforms and Vegetation of the BCCER (Moderate)

June Hikes 

•June 1st – BCCER and BCEP Annual Butterfly Survey (Moderate)

A maximum of 15 people per hike unless otherwise indicated.  Trips are free to the public but charitable donations are gladly accepted. For more information and to sign up call the BCCER office at 530-898-5010 or email them at bccer@csuchico.edu.

Photos courtesy of BCCER.