About the ECNCA

Who is the ECNCA?

The Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates (ECNCA) is a chapter of the Nature Center Associates (NCA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and support group of the natural area park system of Los Angeles County. Founded for educational and scientific purposes, its primary mission is to develop in children and adults an appreciation of the natural world and to preserve Eaton Canyon as a natural area for future generations. 

What We Do

Agents of Discovery

We created 2 “missions” in the interactive game, (Discovery Agents – Agents of Water) for children and families. Using these phone apps, park visitors walk to different locations to unlock puzzles and questions about nature.

Animal Care Providers

Our volunteers assist staff with daily care of the native California animals (mainly reptiles and amphibians) housed in the Nature Center for educational purposes.

Animal Presentations

We conduct youth nature education through informal talks about one or more of the animals on display in the Nature Center.

Bus Grant Program “Partners in Nature”

We provide transportation grants to schools to enable field trips to Eaton Canyon for docent-led guided tours.

Community Festivals & Speaker Presentations

We sponsor Nature Center festivals & speaker presentations.

Community Outreach Booths

We organize and staff school and community outreach nature booths.

Docent-Naturalist Guided School Tours

We conduct youth nature education through docent naturalist led nature and ecology tours for elementary school children.

Family Nature Walks

We sponsor Nature Center Family Walks. Docent Naturalists lead nature walks for all ages. An easy hour to hour-and-a half walk around the lower Eaton Canyon.

Info Desk/Gift Shop

We operate the Nature Center’s information desk and gift shop.


Eaton Canyon has an excellent natural history library of books, many donated, for docents and volunteer use. The ECNCA library volunteers maintain the library and keep it up to date.

Moonlight Nature Walks

We sponsor these nature center group walks. Our docent naturalists lead groups, under a full moon, around portions of the canyon and focus on sights, sounds, and scents that are different from those of the daytime.

Native Plant Gardening Group

The native plant demonstration garden surrounding the nature center is maintained by our gardening group volunteers who plant, water, weed, prune, and care for the garden.  We purchase new plants and equipment as well.

Nature Center Museum Exhibits

We maintain and update the Nature Center’s museum exhibits, and provide interpretive information about the range of natural objects and living animals in the museum.

Nature Camps

Our docents assist staff to conduct youth nature education through seasonal Nature Camps which are day camps designed for children ages 6-12. Children learn about nature through fun-filled activities such as nature hikes, interactive animal lessons, games and crafts.

Nature-in-a-Box: Teacher Loan Kits Program

The ECNCA’s Nature-in-a-Box program allows educators, both private and public, preschool to college, including home-schoolers if there is low demand, to check out a box for a period of about 3 weeks. Each box covers a natural history topic (birds, plants, reptiles, amphibians, geology, etc.) and includes teaching materials, books, taxidermy, skeletons, and many hands-on items for students to use.

Newsletter & Website

We produce and distribute the monthly “Paw Prints” membership newsletter and maintain the ECNCA.org website.

Nature Tails Storytime Reading

We conduct youth nature education through the Storytime program. Docents and volunteers read animal and nature-inspired stories to children at Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

Park Conservation Group

We support the conservation group, which works to re-establish and maintain native habitats by removing exotic plants, weeds, and unnatural structures throughout the Eaton Canyon Natural Area.

Saturday Discovery Table

Our Docent Naturalists staff a table with educational nature displays and information for families at the Nature Center on Saturday mornings.

Scout & Group Ranger Talk or Nature Tours

Our Docent Naturalists lead tours or talks. Year-round, by appointment only.

Summer Twilight Programs

We sponsor the Nature Center Twilight Program, an annual series of summer presentations focusing mainly on native plants, animals, cultures, ecosystems, geology, etc. The programs are somewhat informal and are family-friendly.

Visitor Services

We assist staff with visitor services, including publishing maps & nature guides.

Volunteer Training

We train Docent Naturalists to lead nature walks and interpret nature to all age groups through the Docent Training program. We also conduct ongoing in-service training to docents and volunteers

Park Stewards Program

We support this nature center program, which encourages docents and volunteers to walk in the Canyon and act as ambassadors for nature and the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. We greet visitors and provide helpful advice and promote the preservation of nature.

Youth Nature Education

We conduct nature education through programs that include Youth Group Tours & Service Projects.