School Field Trips & Outreach

Hendricks County Parks and Recreation provides free school field trip and outreach programs to help you create outstanding experiential learning opportunities for your students! The programs are designed to help students build a relationship with the natural environment of Central Indiana.

Field Trips can be scheduled in the spring (April and May) or fall (September and October) at either McCloud or Sodalis Nature Parks. All field trip programs meet or exceed Indiana Academic Standards. The naturalist-led portion of each field trip lasts 1-2 hours, depending on which of the topics you choose (see program topics and descriptions below), and teachers are encouraged to continue exploring the park after the conclusion of the program.

Outreach Programs are a great way to connect students to the outdoors during the winter months. Our Naturalists bring nature into your classroom when it is cold outside. With other teachers in your school, schedule a morning or afternoon of programming (topics and descriptions below). Our outreach programs are hands-on, fun, and full of excellent information, promoting an elevated understanding of local ecology by helping students understand the interaction of animals, humans, and the environment.

Field trips and outreach programs are subject to availability and weather conditions.

Contact Park Naturalists to schedule a program for your class at mccloudnp@hcparks.net (preferred) or (765) 676-5437.

Programs are FREE of charge for all Hendricks County schools.


2017-18 Field Trip Programs

Educational programs are designed to meet Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016 with hands-on experiences. Field trips begin no earlier than 10 a.m. and are limited to 75 students.  Most field trips conclude by 1:30 p.m. Teachers may select up to three of the programs listed below. There are no fees; however, programs are subject to availability and weather conditions.

Spring field trips are offered in April and May. Fall field trips are offered in September and October.

Most sessions are outside, so everyone should dress for the weather. Sessions are rain or shine. Buses should remain on-site if storms are predicted because field trips will be canceled mid-program in the event of thunder or lightning. Because of the limited space in the McCloud Nature Center and its fire code, classes are unable to stay inside.

 

Rain Drop Journey

By role-playing a water molecule, students conceptualize the true, dynamic nature of the water cycle.

Recommended for 1st grade and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 2.PS.3

 

Habitat Hustle

Students portray wildlife and habitat components in a physical activity that simulates natural population fluctuations in ecological systems.

Recommended for 1st grade and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 1.LS.4, 4.LS.2, 5.LS.2

 

Erosion in Action

Students conduct experiments with soil erosion boxes to explore how natural processes and human activities cause erosion. Afterwards, students will observe the effects of erosion on a short hike over the Big Walnut Creek.

Recommended for 4th grade and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 4.ESS.3, 4.ESS.4

 

Every Tree for Itself

Learn the parts of a tree while playing a game! Students simulate how trees compete for varying amounts of light, water, and nutrients. Students will then walk to meet some of the trees they portrayed in the game.

Recommended for 1st grade and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 1.LS.2, 1.LS.4, 2.LS.2, 3.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3

 

Aquatic Ecology 

Step into the natural habitat of our local aquatic creatures. Students will capture water insects to research how their presence relates to a healthy ecosystem. Extra socks and shoes are recommended.

*McCloud Nature Park only

Recommended for 2nd grade and above.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 2.LS.1, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.2

 

Rocks and Minerals

Identify the properties of rocks and minerals through experimentation with acid, black light, fingernails, and more!

Recommended for 3rd grade and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: 3.ESS.3

 

Insects

What’s abuzz in the park? Students study the basic characteristics and specialized adaptations of native insects through hands-on catch-and-release.

Recommended for kindergarten and above.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.2, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.3, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3

 

Abuzz About Honeybees

Check out the new observation bee hives at McCloud Nature Park and learn how the honeybees work to take care of the hive, the queen, and the larva! Students will have a better appreciation of honeybees and other pollinators, and what they do for us after this program.

Allergy alert: as with any visit to the outdoors, it is possible to come in contact with live honeybees and/or other stinging insects. Classes with severe honeybee allergies may want to consider not scheduling this session.

*McCloud Nature Park only

Recommended for kindergarten and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.1, K.LS.2, K.LS.3, 1.LS.1, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.4, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 3.LS.4, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3

 

Nature Hike 

What’s a field trip to the park without a nature hike?  Hike with a naturalist to see what is out and about in the park.  Flora and fauna vary by season!

Recommended for kindergarten and above.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.1, K.LS.2, 1.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 5.LS.2

 

Nature Center Exploration 

Get a chance to explore the Nature Center and the new exhibits! The Naturalists will give a brief tour of the Nature Center and an introduction to the three ecosystems at McCloud Nature Park. Then while being supervised by teachers and chaperones, students will have the opportunity to watch the birds at the feeders, try the matching games, and press buttons for animal sounds.

*McCloud Nature Park only

Recommended for kindergarten through 2nd grade.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.1, K.LS.2, K.LS.3, 1.LS.1, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.4, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3

 

Reptiles 

Meet McCloud Nature Center’s resident reptiles, Chrissy (Painted Turtle) and Oboe (Black Rat Snake)! Students will observe their adaptations first-hand, and compare the animals in their habitats. This may conclude with a short walk to see McCloud’s turtle pond. (There may be an opportunity to touch captive animals, and hand sanitizer will be provided.)

*McCloud Nature Park only

Recommended for kindergarten through 5th grade.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.1, K.LS.2, 1.LS.1, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.3, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.2, 5.LS.3


2017-18 Outreach Programs

Outreach programs are offered November-February in your classroom, free of charge.  Programs are about 30 minutes per class.  Our naturalists set up in one location, and 3-5 classes can rotate through.  Program dates are subject to availability.

 

November: The Food Chain

Naturalists will introduce some of our Indiana producers, consumers, and decomposers, and students will play a card game to learn about food chains and food webs.

Recommended for kindergarten and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.2, K.LS.3; 1.LS.3, 1.LS.4, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.1, 5.LS.2

 

December: Frogs and Toads

Slimy. Warty. Bug-eaters. Frogs and toads are awesome! And while they won’t transform into a handsome prince, every one of them will go through a miraculous transformation from spawn to tadpole to adult. Naturalists will unveil the secrets of their survival adaptations at each stage of metamorphosis, and students will get hands-on with frog and toad calls and sensory bins. As amphibians hibernate through the winter, there will be NO LIVE FROGS OR TOADS.

Recommended for kindergarten and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.1, K.LS.2, K.LS,3, 1.LS.1, 1.LS.3, 2.LS.1, 2.LS.2, 2.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3

 

January: Bats

Who’s heard the phrase “blind as a bat”? Do you think it’s true? Naturalists will dispel this and other myths while teaching students all about these flying mammals and their incredible adaptations. Learn how we can help with bat conservation right in our backyards!

Recommended for kindergarten and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.2, K.LS.3, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.3, 1.LS.4, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 3.LS.4, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.2, 5.LS.3

 

February: Birds of Prey

Is that a raptor or owl in the sky? Learn how to identify native birds of prey by focusing on their size, plumicorns, and silhouette. Discover how these birds help the health of our ecosystem and see their adaptations up close with our taxidermy and skulls.

Recommended for kindergarten and up.

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016: K.LS.2, K.LS.3, 1.LS.2, 1.LS.3, 1.LS.4, 2.LS.3, 3.LS.3, 3.LS.4, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.2, 5.LS.3


Available Financial Assistance

The Indiana Native Plant & Wildlife Society (INPAWS), through Letha’s Youth Outdoors Fund, supports trips for schools and youth groups to experience nature in an educational environment.

Letha’s Fund provides financial assistance to school-age children and youth groups for field trips to nature sites or projects that engender excitement about the natural world. Grants are intended to:

  • Help with transportation costs and/or naturalist fees where funds are limited.
  • Promote youth-initiated projects/activities that connect kids with nature.

The Fund is available state-wide. Teachers/leaders may select nature sites suitable to their location and situation.

To learn more about Letha’s Youth Outdoors Fund, including how to apply for a grant, click here.

Target also awards Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. They are accepting grant applications between 1 p.m. EST Aug. 1 and 12:59 a.m. ET Oct. 1. To learn more, including how to apply, click here.