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junior naturalist program

Amelia Island and the surrounding wild places are special indeed. On and around this island, you may spot dolphins, bobcats, manatees, jellyfish, armadillos, huge oaks, white-tailed deer, horseshoe crabs, herons and egrets, various owls, alligators, anoles and skinks, beautiful wildflowers, and many other species that make up the amazing diversity of this place! If you would like to learn more about Amelia Island’s natural history and if you are between the ages of seven and fifteen, you may enjoy working toward becoming a Junior Naturalist.

There are three booklets in the Junior Naturalist Program, each on a separate area of study: The Seashore, The Maritime Forest and The Saltmarsh.

The Junior Naturalist Program is designed as a self-led study with the child accompanied by an adult. Completed work will be checked for accuracy by a member of the Wild Amelia Board of Directors. Activities within each booklet include collections, attendance at indoor programs or outdoor nature events, water quality studies, art and photography, creative writing, online research, observation and higher-level thinking skills, nature trail checklists, scavenger hunts, and other ways of learning. Completing three areas of interest from either of the three booklets earns a child the honor of being named a Junior Naturalist.

This program was developed by Wild Amelia Board member Robyn Nemes who authored the three workbooks.

Purchase Workbooks 


Children participating in beach activities of the Junior Naturalist program

The Seashore: Within this booklet, children will learn to identify seashells and other beach finds, such as corals and sponges. They will learn about the different kinds of crabs that make their home here on Amelia Island and the adaptations that help the crabs to survive. They will learn what causes the tides, how to read a tide chart, and the unique way the tides work here on Amelia Island. They will learn about the three main types of sea turtles that come ashore to lay eggs during the summertime nesting season.


Children participating in maritime forest activities of the Junior Naturalist program

The Maritime Forest: Within this booklet, children will learn all about live oak trees and how significant these beautiful trees are to wildlife, humans and the maritime forest in general. They will learn about animal and plant species that are not native to the island and the problems they can cause for native species. They will learn all about gopher tortoises that inhabit the dune areas around the island. And they will learn about the whole maritime ecosystem and how animals and plants relate to each other and to the people who live here now or those who lived here in the past, such as the Timucuan Indians.



Children participating in saltmarsh activities of the Junior Naturalist program

The Saltmarsh: Within this booklet, children will learn why the saltmarsh is often called "the nursery of the sea". They will learn all about the alligators that live near the saltmarsh areas. They will learn about the many beautiful large birds who live on the island year-round or migrate to the island for part of the year; an identification key will help them to begin to recognize some of these magnificent birds. And they will learn all about saltmarsh ecology, especially within the context of food webs and the interdependence of various species upon each other.