Youth and Family Programs:
The 4-H TRACKERS Program is Kettunen Center's environmental and outdoor education program designed for youth ages 5-12 or K-6th grades. The program offers hands-on, experiential-based education for getting children outside to learn about science and engaged in outdoor learning experiences. The science activities are designed to meet the Michigan Department of Education Science Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs).
The program is a cooperative effort, planned and implemented by teachers and Kettunen Center program staff. The program is structured to assist classroom teachers in providing quality learning experiences and educational content in an outdoor learning environment.
The 4-H TRACKERS program activities are great activity options for family retreats and to help non-formal youth educators of 4-H clubs, church groups and other youth groups provide environmental and outdoor education learning experiences for youth during planned weekend and summer group activities. The program offers learning experiences in science, natural history, outdoor recreation, team building and life skills.
Some of the program options include seasonal discovery hikes, wetland study, lake ecology, bird study, forest ecology and management, wildlife habitat and adaptations, atmosphere study, wild edibles and useful plants, cooperatives, team-building activities, canoeing, winter survival, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more.
Most program activity offerings rotate by season. See below for program activity descriptions.
Fall sessions (September, October, November)
Winter sessions (December, January, February)
Spring/Summer sessions (April, May, June, July)
Samples of activities include:
Three Cheers for Trees (fall) – Explore the world of Michigan’s great forest resources. Learn about trees as factories and the process of photosynthesis, count annual rings or whorls, and use an increment borer to age a tree. Identify some of the 90 native tree species while you gain greater appreciation of their benefits and their obvious and not so-obvious products that we depend on and as a renewable energy resource. Key concepts: identification keys, photosynthesis, ecosystem, renewable energy resource, measurement.
Building A Team (fall) – Willingness to be a team player is an important life skill for all ages. Outdoor group cooperative games and small group problem solving activities are used to build individual self-esteem, leadership and followship skills to help the team be successful. Key concepts: cooperation, communication, teamwork, group problem solving, leadership.
Nature Detective: Tracking Winter Wildlife (winter) – Explore and discover the forest, wetland, and field ecosystems of northern Michigan in the winter. Be a nature detective and observe, identify and interpret signs of wildlife using tracks, chew marks, droppings, homes and other discoveries. Key concepts: adaptations, habitat, mammals, field guides, living and nonliving components.
Outdoor Recreation for Physical Fitness (winter) – Learn basic skills and enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the outdoor trails. Learn the basic skills of ice fishing on Center Lake. Supervised outdoor sledding can also be an activity choice. Key concepts: safety, physical fitness, outdoor preparedness.
Spring Wings (spring/summer) – Many species of birds are returning during the spring months from their winter migration. Enjoy an outdoor hike through hardwood forests and open fields to learn about the local species and their identifying calls, what they eat, their preferred habitat, nesting habits, physical adaptations and unique behaviors. Learn how to use binoculars, field guides and a bird life-list as simple tools for outdoor observation and data collection. Discuss reasons for the results of your observations. Key concepts: observation, identification keys, adaptations.
Bogs, Frogs and Pollywogs (spring/summer) – Discover how wetlands are like a sponge, a baby cradle, a box of cereal, a strainer and other unique metaphors. Conduct an investigation of wildlife and plants that inhabit a wetland ecosystem (woodland swamp or marsh) through collection, observation, using simple tools and recording data. Find and identify aquatic insects at different stages of growth and other wildlife species using a dipping net, pencil, hand lens, data sheet, identification keys and field guides. Encourage questions and reasons for the results of the investigation and the effect humans and other organisms may have on the balance of a wetland ecosystem. Key concepts: habitat, water, invertebrates, identification key, metamorphosis.
School groups, 4-H and other youth clubs and home school families of 12 youth or more can schedule a one-day, overnight or three-day program. See a typical overnight program schedule.
The cost is on a per student basis with a reduced charge for teachers or adults needed to fulfill the program requirement of “pick up and teach activities” and the one adult for every twelve youth ratio. Contact the Kettunen Center program office for costs and available dates. We often have grants to reduce the cost of the one-day field trip program for local area schools.
Contact Kettunen Center program staff for more information at (231) 829-3421 or email email@example.com.