Neighborhood NewsGreat Falls - Cascade County


Junior Ranger Program kicks off at Buffalo Jump State Park

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Jun 13, 2024

GREAT FALLS — First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park is gearing up for its annual Junior Ranger program, designed to educate and engage young children and their guardians with the park's natural and cultural offerings.

Educational Fun for the Whole Family

Clark Carlson-Thompson, Recreation Manager at First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park, explained the essence of the program: “Every summer, we run a Junior Ranger program aimed primarily at elementary-aged kids. However, we welcome younger and older siblings as well. It's a chance for park staff to foster an educational spirit, teaching various topics from the cultural history of the park to the natural history of the area.”

Tailored Activities for Young Explorers

While the program is inclusive of all ages, the activities are especially suited for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Carlson-Thompson noted, “Our target audience is elementary school children, but older kids can join too. Activities are primarily geared towards the younger age range. We do require a parent, guardian, or babysitter to accompany the children.”

Diverse Learning Topics

The Junior Ranger program covers an array of topics, including snakes, native games, and local plants. “We collaborate with Montana Reptile Rescue, and Jeremy brings various snake species for the kids to see and learn about. We spend two hours discussing these slithery friends found on the prairie and throughout the state. Each session includes an activity paired with a craft, so the kids have something to take home,” Carlson-Thompson said.

Program Schedule and Registration

The program runs from 10 a.m. to noon each Thursday until August 15th. Carlson-Thompson encouraged community participation, stating, “We love getting kids and families excited about visiting the park. It's a weekday morning program, ideal for those who might typically visit on weekends. We are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day throughout the summer. Montana residents can access the state parks for free through vehicle registration. If kids attend three of the classes over the summer, they earn a Junior Ranger badge.”

The Junior Ranger program is free but requires advance registration. For more information and to register, visit the First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park website, or call 406-866-2217.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park map