School Programs & Field Trips

School Programs

and field trips

2020 Special Programs!

School looks a little different for all of us this year!

In anticipation of the fact that local schools will likely not be able to participate in traditional field trips,
we are offering some adapted options to provide some science and social enrichment opportunities
in the safest place we have right now:  Nature!

Click the buttons below for more information on special 2020 Youth Education Programs!


Our experienced educators can bring engaging hands-on environmental education right to your classroom or we would love to host your field trip to our McDonald Farm in Naperville, our Dickson-Murst Farm in Montgomery, or lead your exploration at any other local natural area.

By bringing in natural artifacts like skulls, pelts, shells, and seeds, we expose your students to a variety of plants and animals that live in the prairie, woodlands, and wetlands in nearby habitats. These up-close, hands-on experiences allow students to expand their scientific knowledge, develop a better understanding of the plant and animal world, and be inspired to learn and care about the living things they share their environment with.

All of our programs have been developed to align with the Next Generation Science Standards, STEM and Common Core. All programs are $60 for up to 10 students and then $6 per additional student. 

Please email Amy Phillips, Youth Programs Manager, to discuss an educational program to fit your curricular needs.

PreK-K Programs

Green Thumbs – Discover how seeds grow, mix soil, plant seeds to take home, and dig in the garden or compost bin.

The Forest Hotel – Investigate the many layers of a tree to uncover the various animals that call it home.

Time for Nature – Observe the wonders of nature with your eyes, ears, nose and hands.

Colors in Nature – Hunt for the variety of colors as you take a nature hike.  Bring home your own palette of nature’s colors.

Taste the Rainbow – During the harvest season, explore how our food is grown and keeps us healthy by tasting a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables.

Early Elementary (Grades 1-3)

Insects – Study insects up close.  Learn of their great diversity and the intricate interrelationships they have with plants and other animals.

Rocks and Soils – Unearth the components of rock and soil formation through experiments and differentiate between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.

Web of Life – Examine relationships among various organisms in their environment by observing plant and animal interactions in the prairie, wetland and woodlands.

Seeds and Plants – Identify the parts of a plant and learn how seeds travel through their special adaptations.  Investigate pollinator partnerships between plants and animals.

Late Elementary (Grades 4 and 5)

Earth’s Changing Surface – Set up experiments using the River Cutter Model to investigate the geoscience processes involved in the dynamic changes in Earth’s surface.

Nature’s Recyclers – Identify the importance of decomposers in nature by delving into their microscopic world.

Conservation In Action On The Farm – Tour the wind, energy and rainwater conservation features at McDonald Farm.  Discover the impact of these science and technological innovations through hands-on investigations.

Wetland Study – Discover the plants and animals specially adapted to living in a wetland.  Determine the health of the water by identifying the presence of certain kinds of macroinvertebrates.

Middle School and High School

Let us know what kinds of programs will help you satisfy your curricular needs for your middle school and high school students, whether it’s in the classroom, at one of our locations, or somewhere else entirely!

McDonald Farm Field Trips

The Conservation Foundation’s 60-acre McDonald Farm in south Naperville provides a unique site for nature discovery and exploration.  Featuring a children’s discovery garden, natural wetlands, prairies, woodland habitats, organic farm fields and several renewable energy and sustainable technologies such as solar and wind power and rainwater harvesting, the farm offers endless topics and opportunities for learning.

Dickson-Murst Farm

Dickson-Murst Farm Field Trip

Though we are headquartered at the McDonald Farm, The Conservation Foundation also has a program office near Montgomery at the Dickson-Murst Farm.  This site is 4.5 acres and its shining stars are the impeccably preserved historic farm buildings.  But with native gardens, solar panels and lots of room to run, it also offers plenty to pique your students interests and fuel their imaginations.

Classroom Visits

Though we are definitely proponents of getting students out of the classroom and into nature, we completely understand that sometimes the time and/or funding to do that is just not there!  We’re happy to come to you, bringing a host of activities, tactile teaching tools like skins, skulls, root boxes, watershed models and all kinds of fun, hands-on lessons with us.