Environmental Education

Experience the Creek

Experience the Creek “To help you increase your understanding of the natural world, your place in it, and how to become good stewards of the environment.”

Environmental Education at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve

Where We Are:

The Cache Creek Nature Preserve is located on the north side of Cache Creek about five miles west of Woodland, California.  The 130 acre Preserve provides a multitude of outdoor learning sites allowing students to experience the natural world.

What We Do:

The Cache Creek Education programs have been written by our skilled staff. Our activities emphasize interactive learning and support the California Department of Education Standards. Students, working together in teams, learn first hand by observing and using natural materials.  Each lesson is taught by volunteers and supervised by our knowledgeable staff.  We offer approximately twenty activities that can be adapted to any age or grade level. We suggest participating in four activities during a visit.


To reserve a date, please call (530) 661-1070 Monday through Friday. We will send you a reservation form to return confirming date, time, number of students and supervisors, and your choice of activities. Once we receive your reservation form, we will send you a copy of the lessons for your volunteers to read before the visit. There is no cost to the visiting group! However, donations are gladly accepted. Please contact us for information regarding help with transportation costs.


Two chaperones are recommended for each activity group. For example, if you divide your group into four sub-groups, then we request eight adults. Four adults provide the four lessons and four adults supervise the groups as they rotate from activity to activity.


Programs are presented outdoors rain or shine unless you or the Nature Preserve staff determines that conditions are too extreme.  We will gladly reschedule the visit.


Please dress appropriately for the expected weather conditions on the day of your visit. For safety, we require closed-toed shoes for all participants.  If you choose an activity that has students wading in the creek (Aquatic Insects), we suggest that individuals bring a pair of shoes to wade in and a dry pair for the rest of the day.


Picnic tables are available in our large barn or under our massive Valley Oak trees.  We have two portable restrooms and limited water for hand washing. Sorry, we do not have potable water for drinking.  Groups must provide their own drinking water.

The Education Program is proudly sponsored by the Cache Creek Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoration, education and outreach.

Environmental Education Activity List


Volunteer-Led Activity Stations
All lessons/learning activities can be adapted to any grade or ability level.
Volunteers are required to lead each activity.


Beak Adaptations-­Students discover that bird beaks are multi-function tools. Students use tools or their fingers as beaks to gather food. Survival depends on the right kind of beak for the available food
Building a Bird Nest - Different species of birds build different types of nests in a variety of places from directly on the ground to high up in trees. Students build nests and learn how difficult it must be for birds without hands to help them.
Riparian Mammals – (Wildlife: Muskrat, Otter, Beaver, Raccoon, and others)-Students examine pelts, skulls, and other specimens to learn about the adaptations, natural history, and behaviors of these fascinating creatures.Biomonitoring:

Aquatic Invertebrates-Aquatic invertebrates indicate water quality. Students collect aquatic macro invertebrates and identify them to test the health of Cache Creek.

Earth Elements:

Elements - Students will learn the names of the eight elements that make up most of the earth’s crust, learn the percentages of these eight elements and create graphs to represent them, learn about the Periodic Table of the Elements, and work with decimals and percents.
Rock Cycle - Students will learn about the Rock Cycle and the processes that form rocks. Then students will make their own rocks.
Rock Layers - Students will learn about basic stratigraphy (sequence of rock layers), illustrate folding, uplift and mountain building, discuss plate tectonics and subduction, and examine erosion and canyon cutting by water flow.
Pet Rocks - This is a make and take activity in which students collect and decorate a river rock.

Energy Pyramid and Food Webs-Students learn about the complex relationships within ecosystems. Students create food chains and then find examples food chains in the area. When they become a part of a food web they learn how all organisms in any ecosystem affect each other.
Wetlands-Students explore what wetlands are and how they work. Students using scientific methods learn about wetland hydrology.
“Oh Deer” Simulation Game-Students participate in a game that examines the interrelations of food, water, shelter, and predators in an ecosystem. (*This activity requires whole class participation.)
Life in the Oaks-Students investigate tree rings, oak galls, snags, and the role of acorns in this unique and diminishing ecosystem. Heritage oaks are identified and examined as are the creatures that depend on them. This lesson may include a math component scaled to be appropriate to various grade levels.
Owl Pellet Dissection-Students learn how owls and hawks are adapted to a predatory life style. Students will dissect a sterilized Barn Owl pellet and examine it for skeletal remains. The bones will be catalogued and the students will determine what the owl ate.

The Cache Creek Resource Model- This is a large on-the-ground structure depicting the Cache Creek Watershed; it begins in the Coast Range Mountains to the west and ends with a meandering stream emptying into wetlands and irrigating an agricultural field. Through "hands-on" activities, students explore the model and the actual creek.
Habitat Hunt / Scavenger Hunt-Small groups of students look for various natural objects, examine relationships, and explore examples of biological concepts in the context of a scavenger hunt.
Un-nature Trail-Students take a walk along a nature trail. Along the way they will record and identify obvious and not so obvious non-native and manmade objects. Students will learn of the impacts of what we leave behind and how they can help to preserve our natural places.
Tracks, Scat, and Signs-Students learn about basic track and scat identification. They discover what we can learn about an animal, and the state of its habitat, by what it leaves behind.
Wildlife and Bird Watching-Students use binoculars to get a close up look at the various animals and birds that depend on the wetlands.
Nature Walk-This activity is designed to supplement the volunteer-led activity stations. Time permitting; the Education Specialist will lead the entire group on a discovery nature hike.
Observing Leaves-In this activity, students will discover the great variety amongst leaves. Many facets of leaves are observed and studied. Leaf prints culminate this activity.
Comparing Leaves and Trees-Students collect leaves from a variety of trees in the oak woodland. Students examine leaf structure and function, then match the leaf to the tree of origin and identify the tree.
Sense A Tree-Students learn to become better observers by using their touch, smell and hearing. Students are blindfolded and taken to a nearby tree; there they examine everything they can to recognize again when the blindfold is removed.
Meet A Tree-Students become better observers using their senses as they explore a native tree. Not only do they learn to identify native trees they learn about tree structure and function. 

Native Plants and Culture:
Cordage-Students learn to make cordage (rope, bracelets, dolls, etc.) from tules. The technique is widely used by indigenous people worldwide and is still used by California Native American people, such as the Wintun.
Common Native Plants and Their Uses-Students identify, compare, and contrast a variety of native plant species. Each is discussed in terms of how it was used historically by Native Americans or early settlers.

Contact us to schedule a class or group visit to the Nature Preserve


Contact Mikayla Peterson to schedule a class or group visit to the

Nature Preserve