The following hikes and programs are offered at Conservation District sites. Most are usually held at Rock Springs Nature Center/Conservation Area. Programs can be adapted to all grade levels.
Fees for Onsite Field Trips: $2.00/participant per session. Minimum Fee: $30 per session. Based on 1 hour per session, adaptable to your schedule.
Chaperones may attend for free, but program leaders will depend on them for student supervision. Chaperones are discouraged from bringing younger children.
From double-coated fur to the fringed edge of an owl’s wing, animals have many adaptations that help them survive and thrive. Learn about a variety of these with hands-on activities and a hike.
ANIMALS IN WINTER
Uncover animal activity in winter through a presentation and a hike to look for tracks and other evidence that not all animals hibernate during winter.
Contrast vertebrate animals and invertebrates during an indoor presentation. Then look for vertebrate animals, with an emphasis on mammals, during a hike.
Discover our place in the solar system and learn about the night sky. Weather permitting, we will go outside and view the sun through a telescope.
BIG GREEN MACHINE
This presentation and hike covers the importance of green plants in the food web and emphasizes wildflowers and leaves in the spring, and seeds and leaves in the fall.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Discover the many unique characteristics that birds have, then learn to identify some of them. Can include a hike with binoculars.
Plants and animals are preparing for what comes next. We will explore the woods to find clues of their preparation.
EARTH’S HIDDEN MYSTERIES
Delve below ground to unearth some of Earth’s hidden creatures. Get a “feel” for earthworms and the important role they and other ground-dwelling creatures play in the ecosystem.
What’s the difference between an endangered, threatened, and extirpated species, and how do animals get added to these lists? Learn about some of Illinois’ at-risk species and what you can do to help.
Meet live amphibians and enjoy learning about frogs and toads. Learn the calls and songs of local species.
Focusing on Illinois bats, participants identify truths and myths about these fascinating mammals. A variety of activities will entertain and educate students.
Note: No live bats
HOLIDAY FOR THE BIRDS
Learn about birds at the “Window on Wildlife” and make pine cone bird feeders. Participants can hang the cones on trees and shrubs around the Nature Center.
Examine pelts, skulls, tracks, and scat of Illinois mammals to piece together what their lives are like. This program can tie well with the French fur trading era of Illinois history.
INSECTS OF OUR WORLD
Learn about insects through an indoor presentation. Then, catch and release invertebrates with nets and examine them with a magnifying glass.
Dig up the differences between rocks and minerals, and begin to recognize the roles they play in everyday life. This program can also include a look at fossils.
Visit Rock Springs Conservation Area to explore how trees are tapped and sap is processed into yummy syrup.
When: February through March.
MOTHER NATURE’S NEIGHBORHOOD
Habitats and food webs will be covered during an indoor presentation followed by a hike through natural areas.
Students will learn the important role of pollinators, from bees to butterflies to birds. Emphasis on native pollinators and their impact on the environment and us.
PONDS AND WETLANDS
Discover the importance of water habitats. Then hike to a pond or wetland to catch, examine, and release wild critters.
On this hike we will experience a prairie – one of the rarest habitats in Illinois. Learn about prairie plants, how the Native Americans and pioneers felt about the prairie, and what happened to it.
Discover an Illinois before people, from warm tropical seas, to dark muddy swamps with giant insects, to dinosaurs, and to the ice age. Emphasis on geologic history and prehistoric wildlife.
REPTILES OF ILLINOIS
Learn what makes reptiles unique. Live turtles and snakes help students learn the true nature and value of these creatures.
SEEDS: NATURE’S HITCHHIKERS
Take a hike to see what hitches a ride. Look at seeds close-up and aid in seed dispersal.
SENSORY & NATURE AWARENESS HIKE
A guide will lead your group on a hike emphasizing sensory awareness and the textures, shapes, smells, and sounds of nature. This hike will increase their appreciation of what’s happening in the woods and prairies.
Go head-to-head and see if you have what it takes to survive in the outdoors. Teams will try their hand at building a shelter, following a map, starting a fire, and more. For third grade and above. $3/person.
Time: 2 hours.
SYMBOLS OF OUR STATE
Glimpse Illinois’ natural history through the state symbols that school children chose to represent Illinois. We can cover the state tree, bird, wildflower, mammal, insect, prairie grass, fish, amphibian, reptile, fossil, and mineral. Some live animals included.
Discover the truth behind animals that are often misunderstood or not considered particularly “cute” or “cuddly”, and the important roles they play in ecosystems. Some live animals included.
WHO GOES THERE? OWLS
Learn about the habits and habitats of native owls. We’ll examine mounted specimens to see differences between species.
Note: No live owls. Owl pellet dissection may be added for an additional $2.50 per person. Call for availability.
WORLD OF WATER
Explore the water cycle, the human impact on water, and the importance of water in the ecosystem through hands-on activities.
What was it like to be a traveler in the days of stagecoaches and steam trains? Learn how to pack light and make do.
A VISIT TO HOMESTEAD PRAIRIE FARM
With an emphasis on change in local environment and lifestyle, you will begin with a short indoor presentation, take a hike through the woods and prairies, then experience life on a 1860s living history farm. $3/person.
Time: 2 hours