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 lessons.

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.

2018-2019 FIELD TRIP PROGRAMS

Educational programs are designed to meet Indiana Academic Standards 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 naturalist 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.

Teachers will stay with their classes throughout the rotating, concurrent field trip lessons. Please bring at least one additional adult for each class, so that there is a minimum of two adults per class.

Atlatl Throw

Learn the history behind the atlatl and throw one with your own hands! Naturalists will instruct the proper and safe use of this ancient tool.

Grades: 3rd-5th

Helps fulfill Indiana Academic Standards for Physical Education 2017: 3.1.7.B, 3.4.1.A, 3.4.2.A, 3.4.4.A, 3.4.5.A, 4.4.1.A, 4.4.2.A, 4.4.4.A, 4.4.5.A, 5.4.1.A, 5.4.5.A

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.

Grades: 2nd–5th

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

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 to Big Walnut Creek.

Grades: 4th–5th

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

From the Ground Up: Tree Biology

Discover the parts of a tree by building one from the roots to canopy. Learn the ins and outs while we go up!

Grades: 3rd-5th

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

Honeybees

Check out the 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.

Grades: 2nd–5th

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

Hummingbird Hurdles

The life of a bird is fraught with danger and excitement. Students zip, zig-zag, and tag their way through a series of activities that simulate a hummingbird’s habits and hurdles.

Grades: 1st–5th

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

Grades: pre-K–1st

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

Mammals

Touch pelts, examine skulls, and explore tracks! Students learn about the furred friends living in our local forests and grasslands.

Grades: K-5th

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.3, 3.LS.3, 4.LS.2, 4.LS.3, 5.LS.2, 5.LS.3

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.

Grades: pre-K–2nd

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

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!

Grades: pre-K–5th

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

Rain Drop Journey

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

Grades: 2nd–5th

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

Reptiles

Meet McCloud Nature Center’s resident reptiles: Chrissy the Painted Turtle, Terri the Box Turtle, and Oboe the 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.)

Grades: K–5th

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

Rocks and Minerals

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

Grades: 3rd–5th

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


2018-19 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.

Due to the popularity of our outreach programs, teachers may only choose their top two outreach programs. We will attempt to honor additional requests after October 15 if we have availability.

November: Turtles

Turtle, terrapin, or tortoise? We call all of Indiana’s chelonians (or shelled reptiles) “turtles,” but they don’t all live in water. Some can’t even swim! Get familiar with the different turtles in our state, solve a scute puzzle as a class, and meet a very special guest from the McCloud Nature Center.

Grades: K-5th

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

December: Fireflies

Firefly, lightning bug, glow flies—all different names for the same insect! A midsummer favorite, this bioluminescent animal is known for its patterned glow. Learn how and why these fascinating beetles flash, including how to identify different species by their flash patterns.

Grades: K-5th

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

January: Frogs

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.

Grades: K-5th

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

February: Opossums

Nocturnal pest or secret superhero? Opossums don’t have a stellar reputation, but there’s more to this marsupial than creepy feet and playing dead. Discover how beneficial opossums truly are and play Opossum Scramble with your class!

Grades: K-5th

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


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.