Tired of sitting in a classroom? Do you find yourself staring longingly out your dorm room window? Does parking yourself in the library with a laptop on a sunny, spring day make you stir crazy? Get out into Mother Nature’s classroom!

We are exceptionally fortunate in Northern California, and at Chico State, to have access to the spectacularly beautiful and especially well-managed Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER). Take the ultimate geologic trip through time and explore the three-million-year-old lahars (volcanic mud and debris flows) from the ancient volcano, Mt. Yana. The resulting Tuscan formation is both beautiful and the source of a great deal of university research. Nurture your inner philosopher and contemplate Thales and the origins of matter as you enjoy the meandering tributary streams and springs that feed the 4.5-mile stretch of Big Chico Creek.

A view from the beautiful BCCER.

Considering a career in biology? The reserve is home to over 140 different wildlife species and more than 600 plant species. For the photographers and animal lovers, several uber-cute Northern Saw-Whet Owls reside in the BCCER year-round! Whether you are a scientist, a student, a photographer, or an outdoor enthusiast, a visit to BCCER will inspire renewed awe for the majesty of the Earth and a deep sense of gratitude for the planet’s finite resources, as well as provide a much needed break from finals.

Both the University and the community at large benefit from BCCER’s goals of protecting the on-site natural resources, supporting (and often funding) research programs, and educating the public via outreach programs. A reserve of this size and diversity provides distinct opportunities to educate people of all ages about sustainable land management, the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and water quality restoration and conservation. At the reserve, there is a hands-on outdoor classroom that promotes delight in and understanding of our planet, ultimately leading to healthy stewardship of natural resources.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve welcomes students and the general public for hiking, wildlife observation, and even limited hunting. Students from Chico State participate in efforts to preserve and restore the land, study the many species of plants and animals that make their home within its acres, and are ultimately inspired to follow careers in sustainable land use by their exposure to this extraordinary location.

The Big Creek Ecological Reserve is where education meets the land – so get outside, breathe some crisp air, get some exercise, and enjoy and appreciate the splendor of the Reserve this spring!