Butte Creek Ecological Preserve begins outdoor classes


Left to Right: Ashley Manley, Kate Liggett, Jon Aull, Sierra Baker, Carter Moore. Staff poses for a picture at the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve on Friday, after their intern training session. Photo credit: Brian Luong

Outdoor classes will soon be in session again at the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve (BCEP).

Promising the opportunity of learning about the environment through interactive games and lesson plans, kindergarteners all the way through high school seniors will begin to attend BCEP’s outdoor classes starting Tuesday. BCEP also provides ample opportunities for Chico State students to learn outdoor teaching techniques, and reaches out to underprivileged K-12 students, providing travel grants to lower-income schools.

“Salmon Migration Madness,” is one of the interactive games students will get to play while learning. Students act like salmon and go through an obstacle course, illustrating the fish’s migration journey from Butte Creek, to the ocean, and back. Other activities include planting native plant species, searching for insects inside Butte Creek, or learning about lifelong sustainability techniques.

Butte Creek Ecological Preserve is located in Butte Creek Canyon. The preserve is about one mile away from the famous Honey Run Covered Bridge. Photo credit: Brian Luong

BCEP is also incooporating fire ecology and education into their programs, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Butte County Fire Safe Council.

“The youth that are coming through our program today are going to be future policy makers and future administrators at agencies like CAL Fire,” said Eli Goodsell, BCEP manager. “[They’re the] future fire professionals that we really want to get that culture of understanding fire as not only something that can drastically change our environment, but the ability for it to be a tool for the protection of the environment, and the forest health as well.”

Goodsell also stressed the importance of how underrepresented groups should be able to have programs in place such as the BCEP in order to have diversity in the science fields. According to their website, approximately half of the students served by the program are considered underrepresented.

“If we can bring more underrepresented and minority groups out here [to the preserve], we will see [them] go into the sciences for their careers and for their higher education,” Goodsell Said.

Schools served by the BCEP are not charged for the field trips, thanks to grants given to the BCEP as well as community funding. BCEP also provided 10 transportation scholarships in 2017, serving 493 students, to Title 1 schools–schools with large concentrations of low-income students.

The BCEP also provides internships for Chico State, allowing students the opportunity to do hundreds of hours of hands-on service.

Kate Liggett cleans up an an obstacle course after finishing her training on Friday, at the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve. Photo credit: Brian Luong

“I don’t think there’s any substitutes for teaching and hands-on experience,” said Jon Aull, Education and Research Coordinator. Interns with BCEP learn valuable skills like how to manage classrooms, work with teachers, and how to develop and implement curriculum he said.


The preserve is not just for students and staff, but is open to the public as well. Visitors should visit BCEP’s public use page for more information.

Brian Luong can be reached at [email protected] or @brianluongorion on Twitter.