Field trips

Field trips are available to assist you in your teaching. These programs are STEM strong and aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. If you have questions pertaining to these standards as they relate to school programs, please contact the facility that offers that specific program. All programs are presented by our team of professional and knowledgeable naturalists. 

Requests are time stamped and queued in the order they are received. Please note that submission of a request form does not guarantee a reservation. Request forms are processed in a first-come, first-served order.

REQUEST A SCHOOL PROGRAM

A is for Adaptations

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: K-2
Time: 1.5 hours
Adaptations are like superpowers that help a living thing survive in its habitat. A bat using echolocation to hunt, a hummingbird using its long beak and tongue to drink nectar, and a human using thumbs to hold a fork are all examples of adaptations. During this field trip, your class will explore the special adaptations of our local species. All birds have beaks, but look at the different shapes and sizes! Discover the diversity of frogs that live in our preserve, then collect insects and draw conclusions about why they look like they do.

A Voyageur’s Life

Location: Isle a la Cache Museum
Grades: 2-6
Time: 1.5 hours
What was life like for a French fur trader in the 1700s? How much knowledge did these early explorers need to survive their journey in search of furs? Students learn about the challenges, risks and rewards of being a French fur trader and demonstrate the skills necessary for success.

Animal Signs

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: 2-5
Time: 1.5 hours
Paw prints, scat and an owl pellet along the trail are just a few of the signs local animals leave behind in the preserves. Your class will observe, investigate and identify those and many more! On a guided, exploratory hike, students will learn about the important reasons humans and other predators track the animals around them.

ASI: Animal Scene Investigation

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: K-12
Time: 1-2 hours
ASI teaches the basics of investigating the clues left behind by Will County wildlife. Observation and critical thinking skills are used to investigate the patterns of tracks, feeding scenes, various homes and other signs made by often-unseen creatures.

ELEX Trail

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: K-5
Time: 1-2 hours
It’s humans vs. wildlife as students are challenged on the Early Learner’s Exercise, or ELEX, Trail. By becoming a mole, a spider, an opossum or other local wildlife, students discover how adaptations help these animals survive. As a group, the class then compares their abilities with those of wildlife to better understand and appreciate their own adaptive strengths.

Forest Ecology

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: 5-12
Time: 1.5 hours
Unlock the mysteries of the forest ecosystem. Students will study tree identification, anatomy and function. Your class will learn the benefits of their local forest community and use investigative skills to discover the diversity in Will County.

Forest Invaders

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center and Plum Creek Nature Center 
Grades: 6-12
Time: 2-4 hours
Talk about hands-on! This award-winning program brings students into a forest preserve near your school to participate in an active restoration project. Students learn how non-native species are introduced and what allows them to outcompete native species. Key ecological principles of diversity, competition and endangered species are part of the discussion. Possible restoration work for your class includes seed collecting, non-native species removal and planting of native plants. This program is available at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Plum Creek Nature Center, or at select Will County forest preserves near your school.

Flowering Plants (Spring only)

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: 6-8
Time: 1.5 hours
Students will take a look at the beautiful diversity of spring wildflowers during this seasonal offering. They will review the plant life cycle and examine flower anatomy. Students will be introduced to various ways humans use plants and practice identifying native species in the field.  

H is for Habitat

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: K-2
Time: 1.5 hours
Four Rivers Environmental Education Center has forest, prairie and wetland habitats. Let your classroom explore them all and discover what makes each special. Through activities and observations, students will learn the connections between each member of a community and how each member keeps the whole habitat in balance.

Incredible Insects

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: K-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Think insects will take over the world? They already have. Join us as we explore some of the more than 1 million insect species as they hop, fly, crawl, click, chirp and buzz. Learn their special adaptations, life cycles and habitats, plus what makes an insect an insect. Get ready for a hands-on experience using nets, rolling logs and digging in the leaves!

Insect Study

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: K-12
Time: 1.5 hours
Explore the incredible and diverse world of insects. Discover their unique characteristics and the vast range of habitats required to support all their stages of life. Students will catch, observe and release insects at our preserve.

Living on the Land

Location: Isle a la Cache Museum
Grades: K-6
Time: 1.5 hours
Explore in detail the Native Americans’ relationship with the land. Students will learn about the seasonal preparations and activities of the Potawatomi people.

Maple Syrup Magic

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: 3-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Students are recruited to the maple syrup work crew to become part of the process. They first learn tree identification and do some tree tapping, then they haul harvested sap. At the sugar pans, students learn the chemistry and ratio necessary to cook sap down to syrup. Last is the test of their labor – tasting the maple syrup. This experiential program is strong in chemistry, math, local history and forestry.  Available Feb. 21-March 31, 2023.

Pollination Pals

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: K-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Engage your students with experiential learning as we dive into the world of flowers and pollinators. We will explore the prairie and forest seeking pollinators and flowers to study. What better way to understand a pollinator than becoming one! This program is inspired by Next Generation Science Standards to teach students about plants and their dependence upon pollination. Program months include April, May, June, September and October.

Pond Study

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: 3-12
Time: 1.5 hours
Explore life in the water. Introduce your class to the dragons of the water — dragonflies that is! Students will dip nets into the pond and meet the life beneath the surface. Your class will learn new species, discover their roles in the habitat and draw conclusions about the quality of the pond from the data they gather.

Sights Unseen

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: 3-8
Time: 1-2 hours
Which of the five senses do humans use the most? Your class learns how local wildlife use their senses like and unlike humans. Student’s senses are put to the test with various sensory games and activities, including the classic Hug-a-Tree.

Sniff, Look and Listen

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: K-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Students explore various habitats through hands-on observation. The similarities and differences of a pond, forest and prairie are realized through comparison, and your class will learn how each provides its inhabitants with basic survival needs.

The Story Circle

Location: Isle a la Cache Museum
Grades: 2-6
Time: 1.5 hours
Students learn the importance of oral stories as a means to promote cultural values and traditions as they explore the stories of the French and the Native Americans of the Great Lakes region. During this exploration, students will create a myth using pictography and communicate in Native American sign language.

The Trade 

Location: Isle a la Cache Museum
Grades: K-6
Time: 1.5 hours
Step back in time to Illinois during the 1750s. Students practice the barter system used by the French and Native Americans to exchange goods. By participating in a trade, students learn and see the benefits of this economic process.

Water Chemistry

Location: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center
Grades: 6-12
Time: 1.5 hours
Water is essential! During this engaging program, students will discuss different types and sources of water pollution and then perform chemical field tests to see how our water quality measures up.

Wetland Wonders

Location: Plum Creek Nature Center
Grades: 3-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Hidden beneath the surface of the pond is an abundance of life that awaits discovery. Students learn about water as a resource and the importance of quality fresh water. Armed with nets and buckets, they sample a wetland, identify aquatic invertebrates and draw conclusions from data.

Locations

Field trips are offered at three Forest Preserve facilities. Student capacity varies for each site. Additional field trip days may be required to accommodate larger groups.

Channahon

Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon
815-722-9470

Maximum 50 students (or three classes) per day.

Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville
815-886-1467

Maximum 50 students per day.

Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township near Beecher
708-946-2216

Maximum 50 students per day.