The Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization which assists the County of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation, in the operation and programming of Placerita Canyon Natural Area.
The organization’s mission statement is: To inspire a passion, awareness and respect for the environment, and to preserve and protect for future generations the history and ecosystem of Placerita Canyon.
Placerita Canyon’s docent naturalists lead educational programs and nature hikes for elementary school groups and others throughout the year. They undergo an intensive training process to serve as guides and educators. Education about the environment is one of the goals of the docent organization at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. Four mornings each week, school groups go on trips to Placerita where they are greeted by docents who give them a presentation in the onsite classroom about the circle of life, explaining the interactions between plants, animals and why the food web is so important. The children are provided a simple, though vivid, explanation about how living organisms depend on each other. A presentation with live animals is next; then the children are divided into groups to walk on different trails, each group led by a docent. A parent or a teacher is at the end of the group to make sure all of the children are accounted for. Beyond the classroom presentations and walks, the possibilities for a docent to get involved with other projects are nearly endless, from outreach and patrolling the trails to fighting the never-ending battle against non-native plants. Docents also organize special projects, fundraisers, parties, stock food supplies, plan crafts for children and help with animal care, among many other activities. If there is nothing interesting to you on that list, you may present your ideas to the board. They have been known to get pretty excited by all kinds of new projects.
Docent training starts Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The Nature Center calls them “docent naturalists,” and they attend these classes for a 9-week training.
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is going through a lot of changes. This year, the school groups started early and many outreaches were booked in advance. The amphitheater is finished and so is the first phase of the Braille Trail. Phase 2 will bring educational panels along the trails, and the first one should be installed soon.
FAMILY NATURE WALK: Every Saturday from 11 to noon. An easy 1-hour walk exploring the area’s natural and cultural history.
ANIMAL PRESENTATION: Every Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m. See, learn and ask questions about live native animals of the area.
BIRD WALK: Second Saturday of the month from 8 to 10 a.m. for all levels of birders. Bring binoculars, water and field guide.
BIRD WALK, CASTAIC: The Placerita Canyon Natural Area docents lead a monthly bird walk at Castaic Lake Recreation Area on the first Saturday of the month at 8:00 a.m.
BLOOMS OF THE SEASON: Learn about native plants and what is blooming along the trails. Meet in the patio at 9:30 for a one-hour stroll on the fourth Saturday of every month. Bring your camera and questions. For more information about this free program, call 661-259-7721 or 259-7832.
NATURE EDUCATION: An exciting new program at Placerita in conjunction with the Community Hiking Club. Every 3rd Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. the PCNCA and the CHC will provide a free educational program open to the public. Changes may be made, so call the center at 661-259-7721 to verify.
TWILIGHT HIKES: This program is offered on the 3rd Saturday of each month. This program begins at 7 p.m. and runs for about an hour. Park staff and the Nature Center Docents split groups and courses through the different trails in the dark. Come howl at the moon — if there is one that night!
JUNIOR RANGERS: Second Saturday of each month from 11:30 to 12:30 for children 6 years and above. Nature topics and a small hike, this new program is provided by Ranger Frank Hoffman.
CRAFT FAIR: December 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (article below for details)
For further information on any of these programs, visit the website (Placerita.org) or call the nature center office at 661-259-7721.
Placerita Canyon Nature Holiday Craft Fair
An annual event in the Sand Canyon area has become a holiday tradition for many Santa Clarita residents. The Placerita Canyon Nature Center Holiday Craft Fair brings people together to create and decorate holiday wreaths, centerpieces and ornaments using an assortment of fresh-cut greenery, pine cones and other items from nature.
This year’s Holiday Craft Fair will be held on December 2-3, 2017 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall. As it is a fundraising event for Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates, there is a charge for some of the activities. For more information, call 661-259-7721 or visit Placerita.org.