Kristie's Nature Lab

Kristie served as a volunteer animal caretaker and a junior naturalist for the Chico Creek Nature Center. She fell in love with Aspen, a silver ferret who could no longer safely in his natural habitat, so the Center set up a wonderful home for him inside the animal building. In memory of Kristie's dedication to the animals, the Center planted a Maple tree. Next to the tree is a memorial plaque with a picture of Kristie holding Aspen. The Center, located in Bidwell Park, built an interpretative center in 2010 that includes Kristie's Nature Lab, an environmental classroom for children in K-6th grades. Children learn about the natural wonders of Northern California and how to best preserve our environment. The lab includes a projectile microscope, wall mural depicting an area of the park, work stations, and plenty of room for the children to play as they learn. Play the video below of the Chico Creek Center that includes footage from Kristie's Nature Lab!

Here's a letter from Tom Haithcock, the director of the Nature Center, Kristie will be remembered.

At Champion Christian School, Kristie kept busy during her sophomore year. She was an honor student, class officer, basketball player and member of the track team. A classmates letter. In her freshman year, she also did cheerleading and was a stage hand for the school play. When she didn't get a part in the play, she decided to help out behind the scenes. She loved getting everyone dressed up for their next act.

In January 2002, Kristie was about one month away from going on her first mission trip where she would spend part of the time working in an orphanage in Costa Rica. Along with several other classmates and a teacher, she had planned this mission trip—a trip she had dreamed about since the eighth grade.

Sadly, Kristie never did realize this dream. Her passport arrived in the mail just weeks after the deadly pursuit that took her life. Her classmates, who did go on this trip, brought back a beautiful ceramic butterfly and assured me that "Kristie did make that mission trip."


While Kristie had sparkling, beautiful hazel-green eyes, it was that vibrant smile that caught most people's attention. Kristie's classmates write that she was kind to everyone and always had a smile for someone who was having a rough day. I've noticed that in about 95 percent of my photographs of Kristie that she is doing two things: She has her arms wrapped around the other person in the picture, and her smile invites you to take in the joy that you feel when looking at the pictures.


Indeed, Kristie Priano,

your joyful spirit lives 

Kristie's Aunt Bev once said, "There is nothing ordinary about Kristie." 

Candy responded, "I'd have to agree with my sister. Not because I'm Kristie's mother but because my sister's words are simply the truth." 

It was easy to see that Kristie loved Jesus, and He had given Kristie the gift of "Joy." Kristie did not hide (or show off) her special gift. She spread her joy throughout the Chico community by volunteering at her school, running in races to raise money for research to cure cancer and AIDS, helping out at Christian organizations and fund raisers. She served as a junior naturalist and took care of injured animals at the Chico Creek Nature Center.

Kristie absolutely loved the time she spent at the Nature Center. It was this experience that brought her closer to nature, increased her desire to care for all kinds of animals and even brought her closer to Jesus.
Kristie's Walk with The Lord
by Candy Priano

Kristie loves her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. About a month before Kristie was killed, she talked to me about heaven. With a simple question that wasn't a question, Kristie said, "Do you know what Heaven looks like?"

Without even taking a breath, she told me: "It's absolutely beautiful, Mom. The grass and trees are beautiful; the colors are so vibrant and not like the colors we see on Earth. Flowers bloom to perfection and plants don't get brown spots and they don't even need water!"

Kristie talked about Heaven for a few more minutes until I told her it was time to get some sleep. As I turned out her bedroom light, she said, "Mom, everything is so perfect in Heaven." I cried, but Kristie never saw me cry. She was so happy.

My Kristie left behind many treasures, including a freshman high school paper.

In this beautiful essay entitled "My Life," Kristie writes: "Anyone who knows me would say that my family is the most important thing to me." And she is certainly the most important gift, along with her brother Steven, that God has given me.

In memory of Kristie, family and friends purchased a brick at Caper Acres, a play area for small children. This saying is imprinted on the brick: "Kristie Priano, your joyful spirit lives on."