Homeschool Ecology Series

Our new Homeschool Ecology Series at McCloud Nature Park provides in-depth ecology lessons for homeschool students ages 12-18 and their younger siblings! These lessons will be hands-on and include experiments, field studies, and discussions about related careers. There will be optional homework and enrichment ideas to extend the lessons at home and in the community.

Advance registration is required. The Homeschool Ecology Series is $10 per student per session, and the lessons are intended to build upon each other. However, students may register and attend any lessons that interest them and fit into their schedules.

Parents of the students may also register as participants for $10 per session if they would like to participate in the activities.

For younger siblings (ages 4-11) of students registered in the Homeschool Ecology Series, there will be a separate lesson on a similar topic offered concurrently for just $3 per child per session. These lessons have been created specifically for the younger student and are restricted to siblings of registered students in the Homeschool Ecology Series. Parents or guardians must attend with the younger siblings, as this is not a drop-off program.

For any questions or assistance with registration, please call the McCloud Nature Center at (765) 676-5437.

At least half of each program is spent outdoors, so everyone of all ages – including parents and guardians – will need to dress for the weather.


January: Nature in Winter

Thursday, January 30, 1-3 p.m.

Advance registration required by Jan. 26 by clicking here

Students will examine the amazing winter adaptations that wildlife exhibit. Through experimentation, students will learn strategies that animals use to survive the weather and other animals. Students will then apply these adaptation ideas to winter survival ideas for people.

Younger siblings and their parent or guardian will enjoy their own lesson on nature in winter.


February: Fire Ecology

Thursday, February 20, 1-3 p.m.

Advance registration required by Feb. 16 by clicking here

Fire can be a helpful tool for land managers when used properly! Students will compare case studies of several fires. They will view two fire-dependent ecosystems at McCloud and identify plants that are fire-tolerant. The Park Naturalist, who holds a Wildland Firefighting certificate, will share first-hand experience from serving on a prescribed burn crew. Students will practice several fire-starting methods while learning the Fire Triangle and will enjoy marshmallows roasted over the fire.

Younger siblings and their parent or guardian will enjoy their own lesson on prairie wildlife and Smokey Bear. This will include an age-appropriate fire safety and prevention discussion and activity.


March: Forest Ecology

Thursday, March 19, 1-3 p.m.

Advance registration required by March 15 by clicking here

Forests don’t remain the same because they change over time. This is called “ecological succession,” and this term was actually coined in northwest Indiana by Dr. Henry Chandler Cowles. Students will hike the trails at McCloud to observe succession and will also discover how wildlife affect the forest composition.

Younger siblings and their parent or guardian will enjoy their own lesson on forest animals.


April: Invasive Species

Friday, April 17, 1-3 p.m.

Advance registration required by April 12 by clicking here

Even in protected areas such as McCloud Nature Park, park managers battle plants and insects that are from other parts of the world. These are called “invasive species” and live in our area due to accidental or planned introductions. Students will consider why these species are problematic and will participate in real-world dilemma discussions. Students will also participate in invasive plant removal.

Younger siblings and their parent or guardian will enjoy their own lesson on insects.