The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) in Northern California offers a variety of educational opportunities. In the fall of 2013 we gave students in grades 3-6 the opportunity to join us for field trips, during which they could learn about salmon biology, stream ecology and a variety of other environmental subjects. Those students also had the chance to observe CSU, Chico college students carry out their scientific studies and discoveries.

306313_472062599472605_1923048445_nIn our outdoor classrooms, students benefit from a plethora of hands-on learning experiences, and they do so surrounded by fresh air and the brilliance of nature. Fourth- and fifth-grade students can take advantage of this opportunity in the spring.

This spring, CSU, Chico’s Outdoor Classroom Program is offering 4th- and 5th-grade students 21 field trips at the BCCER and the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve (BCEP). Many of the characteristic spring lesson plans are being arranged; as well, we are expanding two of our most popular field-trip themes: birds and aquatics.

The BCCER field trip lesson plans will revolve around birds. We continue to offer our popular bird-banding station. Additionally, we have added a new bird blind and a bird feeding station, which will allow students to learn more about avian identification and survey methods. The BCEP field trips will relate to aquatic ecosystems and will include our popular aquatic insects and Western pond turtle lessons. Lessons at both facilities will be reinforced through the use of games and songs.

As has always been the case, our field trips are designed to meet California Science Content Standards and California Education and Environment Initiative (EEI) standards. And soon our classroom programs will align with Next Generation Science Standards. Our Outdoor Classroom Program provides students with the opportunity to learn the value of nature and the anticipation of discovery. Offering these programs is one of the most valuable ways the Reserve gives back to the community, and we appreciate the support the community provides in funding these programs. Learn more about how you can help support these program.


IMG_1347 The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) is home to over 140 different wildlife species that populate a variety of diverse habitats. BCCER endeavors to promote awareness and conscious management of Earth’s natural resources by preserving these habitats and by providing a setting that allows for environmental IMG_1348research and education. To take advantage of this unique locale, a group of educators, naturalists, professionals and volunteers have organized to advance natural science and outdoor education in northern California.

IMG_1349Outdoor Education for ALL (OEFA) strives to provide a curriculum of standards-based outdoor experiences for every school-age child, K-12, in Butte County. CSU, Chico students have the opportunity to participate in this program through internships and community-service projects, IMG_1350learning job skills in education and for the emerging green economy.

IMG_1353The goals of OEFA include developing a state-of-the-art training program, using the most current and effective outdoor-education techniques, as well as conducting program assessments to measure and IMG_1352improve the educational effectiveness of the program. Ultimately, the program will have the potential to provide life-long learning experiences for families and the general public. There are other local networks and partnerships similar to OEFA that are forming or already exist, and we want to introduce our efforts to this network of locally-based groups that are working to speed the process of developing a more environmentally-literate citizenry.

Pictures: April meeting at the Reserve. Some of the meeting participants went on a short walk of the Reserve and demonstration of some of the teaching techniques the Reserve uses in the Outdoor Classroom after the meeting.

Although OEFA is in its infancy, much has already been achieved. Program participants have designed and conducted a two-day seminar at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. There, attendees learned about developing partnerships for place-based education. They also compared two outdoor-education models: Crissy Field in San Francisco and the NatureBridge Marin Headlands Campus. OEFA also agreed to form a working group, which has doubled in size from 30 to over 60 educators in the span of three months.

New connections have been formed with group participants that have already improved county educational programs. Migrant Education and after-school programs for underserved kids are visiting BCCER, giving these students the opportunity to attend and benefit from outdoor science lessons; Butte County Office of Education has made a proposal to CSU, Chico to develop an outdoor education site for students with special needs; and participants are helping each other develop new outdoor education programs at Patrick Ranch Museum, Rancho Esquon and Bidwell Park.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve is owned and managed by the CSU, Chico research foundation and has been educating visitors about the importance of ecological preservation for over 10 years. Through the efforts of Outdoor Education for ALL participants, BCCER will continue to provide such opportunities far into the future.


BCCER Research: What Happens When Bodies Decompose in Water?

September 23, 2013

“Forensic anthropologists encounter human remains from a large range of environmental contexts, including bodies of water,” explains Kristina Zarenko, a grad student who is studying what happens to bodies and the environment they are in when human remains end up in bodies of water. Forensic anthropologists study what happens to human bodies after they die, […]

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The Outdoor Classroom Brings Science to Life for Elementary Students

August 26, 2013

At the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) in Northern California, we are able to travel back in time, exploring geological footprints of Mt. Yana, a prehistoric volcano. The formations resulting from the volcanic flows are a constant source of wonder, as well as a source for education and research at CSU, Chico. Yet the […]

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New Research Projects Announced

July 22, 2013

One of the most valuable experiences a student can have during college is hands-on research, and each year the BCCER provides an opportunity for students to delve into the mysteries of the earth by providing research grants to a number of students. This year’s grant-funded research will include a wide variety of investigations; throughout the […]

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A Picture of the BCCER Really Is Worth 1,000 Words

June 19, 2013

We can talk endlessly about the beauty and wonder of the BCCER, but sometimes, it’s better just to show you what we mean, so this month’s blog is a photo blog of some of the beauty of the area. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to come see it for yourself. Photos by Scott Huber. […]

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Thank You, Chico Community, for Making our 10th Annual Candles in the Canyon a Success!

May 30, 2013

Once again, our signature annual fundraising event, Candles in the Canyon, was a huge success. Thanks to our amazing sponsors and the support of the Chico, California community, this year’s event was our biggest ever. Even though we expanded our seating space, the event was sold out well in advance, with more than 260 people […]

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The Co-Evolution of Rattlesnakes and Ground Squirrels: Research at the BCCER

April 29, 2013

We speak often about how special we think the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve is for educating people about the environment and educating school children about sustainability and life cycles. The BCCER is an important place for research, too. Both students who attend CSU, Chico, as well as students from around the country, rely on […]

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Bats, Owls and Moths (Oh, my!) – BCCER 2013 Spring Naturalist Outings

March 4, 2013

The return of spring at Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve heralds the return of the Spring Naturalist Outings. Launch your 2013 exploration of the BCCER by joining long-time owl expert Dawn Garcia and astronomer David Samuels, as they offer two nighttime adventures in one evening. You can watch Dawn capture, process, band and release Northern […]

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Getting Down to the Business of Research

February 27, 2013

February is a great month at CSU, Chico. The students are back on campus and settled in; they are beyond the shifting that occurs in the first few weeks, where class schedules, dorm assignments and even majors are up in the air. February is when the students really get down to work. For students who […]

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