Parks and Open Space

Community Programs

Weekend Nature Walks

Who: Families with children ages 10 and younger. 
Where: Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden, Arboretum West Entrance (next to May Museum)
When: Saturdays @ 10:00 a.m. Dates vary, see below.
Cost: Free!
Contact: Katie Bird @ (775) 785-4153 or 

Join us every other Saturday for a family friendly walk as we explore the plants and wildlife of the May Arboretum.  Each walk will include a nature themed activity that can be modified for kids of all ages.  The schedule and activities can be found below. Click the link above to see our Facebook event page. Contact the Arboretum Educator for more information.  

March 23: Winter Storytelling
April 13: Spring Theme
April 27: Tree Theme
May 4: Global Big Day -- Let's go birdwatching!

More dates coming soon!

Nature Explorers: Nature Journaling for Home Schoolers

Welcome local home school children and parents to a new experimental Arboretum program! Join our educator, Katie, for guided outdoor explorations to learn more about the natural world, get better at drawing, and/or just spend time outside with your family.

What is nature journaling?
Nature journaling is an activity for all ages where one spends time sketching & writing about the things that they experience outdoors. This activity does NOT depend on artistic skill, and instead is a pursuit of observation rather than of drawing mastery. Nature journaling is a valuable educational tool for children and adults alike to ask more questions about nature, and in turn develop a mindset more comfortable with scientific inquiry. Getting better at drawing is just a natural side effect of drawing a lot!

Nature journaling is popular in many home school curriculums, particularly with those using the Charlotte Mason method. We at the Arboretum are proud to include this educational opportunity to our Reno homeschooling community!

Session topics are inspired by Next Generation Science Standards, Nevada Visual Arts Standards, and the California Native Plant Society's Nature Journaling curriculum. Our "Nature Explorer" sessions will be 1-1.5 hours long and, generally, include a short hike, a guided activity, and free journaling time.

Drawing supplies (pencils, colored pencils, erasers) are provided. Feel free to bring additional supplies as you please.

Journals must be supplied by the parent(s). Please bring a journal that your child feels comfortable carrying themselves, and would stand up to use outside. Our educator likes this hard bound 5.5" x 8.5" spiral sketchbook, which is light and inexpensive: She bought hers at Walmart for about $5, and has been using it for about 6 months with no complaints! 

Parents are also encouraged to bring a journal themselves and draw alongside their child. Don't worry if you don't think you're good at drawing -- it's not about making pretty pictures, it's about observation! 

All of our Nature Explorer sessions will be free and open to anyone in the Reno-Tahoe area who home schools. However, we have limited art supplies and volunteer helpers, so registration in advance is greatly appreciated! 

Please register by calling our educator at 775-785-4153, or emailing her at

The Arboretum Educator also notes that many of our planned activities would be best suited for children over 8 years old. However, because we know that many home school parents also have younger children, please feel free to bring them along as necessary, and adapt the activities in a way that would work for your younger children. For some this may mean bringing another journal and some crayons, and letting their little ones try to follow along. For others it may be stepping away from the group to let their hyper 2-year old run around for a little while. Whatever you need to do, no worries!

Well-behaved teenagers are welcome to attend without an accompanying parent if they wish, but a parent must be located on the Rancho San Raphael campus during the program, in case of any emergency.

Schedule and Meeting Places:
Mar 12: Rancho Visitor Center
Mar 26: Ranch House
Apr 9:
Apr 23:
May 7:
May 21:


Friday Bird Walks

Who: Everyone!
Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden Office (next to Ranch House)
When: Fridays @4pm. 
Cost: Free!
Contact: Katie Bird @ (775) 785-4153 or 

Join us on Friday afternoons to start your weekends right: looking for birds! We'll stroll through the gardens watching and listening for some of the West's most beautiful feathered creatures, while learning a bit about taxonomy and biology. All experience levels are welcome! We have a limited number of binoculars, so if you have them please bring them. Hope to see you there! Click the link above to see our Facebook event page. Contact the Arboretum Educator for more information.  

Upcoming Walks

April 12
April 19
May 3
May 10
May 24
May 31
June 7
June 14
June 21
June 28

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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »