San Diego County, California

Educational Programs


The Interpretive Center offers many programs conducted throughout the year by the Ranger staff, our dedicated docents, and The Escondido Creek Conservancy.   These include activities for children and adults.  The Center offers an annual photo contest, school programs, a Junior Ranger program, a lecture series, and new exhibits every for months.  Check out our events calendar for the latest goings-on.

Photo Contest winners

Photo Contest

Every year we hold a photography contest for photos snapped in the Elfin Forest.  Winners receive prizes and their winning entry is put on display during our annual photo exhibition.  We select one winner from each of the following categories: Best in Show, Youth Photographer, Scenic View, Water Scenery, Plants & Wildlife, and Black & White.  Click here  for official contest rules.

Herptological Lecture Series - 11-15-2014Lecture Series

Our annual lecture series hosts engaging speakers from all around San Diego County and beyond.  Topics range from conservation, geology, natural history, native plants and animals, landscaping, the health benefits of being outdoors, local history, and more.  This year the series kicks off in May and runs until November.  Talks are held on the third Thursday of each month, from 6:00 until 7:15 p.m.  See the event calendar for more information.

Graduate Miguel Carmona - 3rd grader from Felicita Elementary - CroppedJunior Ranger Program

Designed for children ages 5-15, this free program is a blast!  Participants are given a handbook with fun activities like scavenger hunts, word searches, crossword puzzles, and more.  Complete enough activities and they’ll swear in as official Elfin Forest Junior Rangers and receive a nifty badge!


Nancy Samp Photos2Fieldtrips

Our partnerships have expanded to include the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and the San Diego Zoo.  Through these collaborations, students in grades 3rd-6th are engaged in a sequential, discovery and inquiry-based program that spans the full Escondido Creek watershed from its headwaters, through the city of Escondido, into the Elfin Forest, and out to the San Elijo Lagoon.  Our school program serves over 400 elementary and middle school students annually, including underserved youth who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see and learn about their local environment.  Children get the chance to see how water moves through a watershed, and how their actions affect the quality of the water in the creeks, the lagoon, the ocean, and the natural environment around them.  It works—primarily because the students are engaged in a program very different from their day-to-day normal classroom activities, and because they have fun.  In the hands of our trained and dedicated docents, students are not told about nature but instead have the opportunity to question, investigate and discover it.  More importantly, during their visit they are able to experience the joy of observing a hawk soar, the beauty and stillness of a riparian oak forest canopy, and rock-hop over a stream.   It is our goal to not only develop an appreciation for nature, but a true passion for it that produces future stewards of the watershed.  For more information, or to schedule a fieldtrip click here.


Every four months we debut a new exhibit in the Interpretive Center.  Whether it’s a beautiful exhibition of work completed by local artists, a showcase of photography contest winners, or informative displays, these exhibits ensure that no matter how many times you’ve visited the Interpretive Center, there’s always more to see.