Three Non-Profits Team Up for Nature Excursion to Black Swan Preserve

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On Saturday, May 16, Bear Yuba Land Trust teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County and North Lake Tahoe and Gold Country Fly Fishers for a day of hiking, fishing and picnicking at Black Swan Preserve near the town of Smartsville.

A group of 20 people – adults including grandparents and children as young as three – from Big Brothers Big Sisters hiked a two mile nature trail, along the way learning about California oak woodlands, the ancestral Yuba River bed and the hydraulic mining operations that once dominated the landscape.

“I love the idea of getting them outdoors and getting exercise. A lot of our kids don’t get that. I thought it was the perfect hike for the group. It was just enough,” said Suze Pfaffinger, Community Based Program Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters serves over 100 local children and is always looking for more “Bigs” to mentor and serve as positive role models for young people, many of whom are on a waiting list. The organization serves children between the ages of 6 and 18 primarily from single-parent, low-income families.

After the hike, young and old met up with fishermen at the pond for fishing lessons and a barbecued picnic lunch prepared by husband and wife Joe and Jeryn Byrne, of the nine attending fly fishers. Byrne is also the past president of Bear Yuba Land Trust.

“What a great day! We really enjoyed ourselves. I feel that events such as this are a wonderful example of three non-profits joining to show kids how much fun you can have in nature. What can be better than hiking, fishing and burgers. All of the Gold Country Fly Fishers members loved interacting with the kids, especially the hugs at the end,” said Byrne.

Other youth programs organized by Gold Country Fly Fishers include Trout in the Classroom and the Malakoff Diggins Kids Fishing Derby held earlier this month.

Bear Yuba Land Trust has a long history of providing opportunities for youth to get outdoors and connect with nature, including restoration projects such as Scotch broom pulls, wildlife and pond studies at area preserves and the three sessions of Earth Encounters nature camp that begins June 8 at the Burton Homestead. With the spring hiring of Christy McCracken, BYLT’s new Youth Program Director, expanded youth programming, like the Black Swan outing, is on the horizon.

“I felt like this event was a success on many levels. To get so many people out and exercising together is always great to see. I loved that so many ages were able to participate. Successful communities have multigenerational events – where lots of different ages come together, talk and interact. In our world, inundated with technology, days spent wandering and exploring are crucial for our next generation.

This is exactly the kind of activity that I hope to offer our community in the future. BYLT has amazing land to share and so many opportunities to volunteer. I hope to be that bridge to connect families, retirees, and specialists in meaningful and purposeful activities,” said McCracken.

For 25 years, BYLT, a community supported organization, has worked to save forests, farms and wildlife habitat; built and maintained miles of recreation trails and provided nature education programming that gets people outdoors.