The U.S. Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition have teamed up to create a nationwide effort to get Americans outdoors. They have declared June 14 as National Get Outdoors Day.


An acorn woodpecker will be on display at Saturday’s event at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. (Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center photo)

The goal of the day is to connect children and others to the outdoors and show them the benefits of outdoor recreation and activities. Get fresh air and see new scenery on Saturday in the Los Padres National Forest.

Push the mouse aside, drop the remote, pull yourself out of the chair and give your kid’s game controller a badly needed rest.

The 11 a.m. program at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center will be “Discovering Plants and Animals in Wheeler Gorge” presented by Mike Havstad. Children will meet at the picnic tables under the shade of large sycamore trees. They will learn about bird behavior and the sounds they make from bird call devices. Everyone will get a chance to watch stellar jays, scrub jays, doves and hummingbirds at the feeders.

The program will continue in the campground along the cool and heavily shaded creek. We will look for wildlife and signs of wildlife and learn about many of the plants found in the area. The program ends with a contest of guessing how many acorns are in a woodpecker’s granary, with the winner receiving a small gift card for the visitor center. 

At 12:30 p.m., Matt Kouba will give his presentation on mammals. Kouba brings home his scientific understanding of why mammals behave as they do by combining his sense of humor, his badly taxidermied wildlife and his knowledge as a naturalist.

The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center’s Saturday programs run until school begins in September. Donations for each program pay for speakers and are $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 5 to 18, and children younger than 4 are free.

The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is on Scenic Highway 33, a half-hour drive north of Ventura.

Mike Havstad is the director of the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.