Schools & Tours & Scouts

HCNC Field Trip Registration Form click here

The Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards 4.15.13

Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation of Science, Technology, Society and the Environment

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Target is giving out School field trip grants


School Field Trip Scheduling Information:

To make a reservation: Call (616) 675-3158

To see if a day is open, go to our “Events Tab” and there you can see all scheduling (schools on specific days already scheduled).

Field trip cost is $4.75 per child

Field Trip Checklist for Schools

Appropriate Dress Activity Sheet

Chaperones Document

Transportation Staff

When Making reservation over the phone or faxing in please have the following on your paper work

  •   Date Preference
  •  Grade Level
  •  Number of students who will attend
  •  Arrival and departure times
  •  School name and district
  •  Special needs and request
  •  Email contact with person coordinating event and  phone number (preferable direct line)


The contact teacher will be sent a confirmation packet which will include:

    •  Confirmation form for teacher to verify registration details and return to HCNC via courier
    •  A Concept Statement to be taught and Behavioral Objectives
    •  Pre-trip Activities to prepare students for their education experience at HCNC
    •  Instructions for dividing students into small groups prior to coming to the Nature Center
    •  Post Trip Activities


Environmental Education at HCNC


The use of scientific processes and tools (the scientific method, charts, microscopes, etc.) are often part of our programs. Please let us know on your registration form, if you have a specific related request.


Senses of Wonder – Kindergarten        

 Kindergarten St of MI Science Expectations

Kindergarten Grade Key Concepts

Kindergarteners will explore the world around them (living and nonliving things) and experience through their own senses the wonders of nature. As they  practice using their senses, they will discover that many animals depend on the similar senses in their daily lives. The hike will lead students to a variety  of habitats where they will identify the basic needs of living things.

Planet Full of Homes – 1st Grade

1st Grade St of MI Science Expectations

1st Grade Key Concepts

All living things have a “home and a family” is the primary concept students learn. As they explore such natural habitats as a pond, field, and hardwood forest (homes), they will discover the importance of food, water, air, and space for plant and animal survival. Students will also see evidence of the different stages of plant and animal life cycles (families).

How’s it Growing? – 2nd Grade

2nd Grade St of MI Science Expectations

2nd Grade Science Core Curriculum – Seeds/plants

2nd Grade Key Concepts

Students will take a discovery hike with an emphasis on plants and their life cycle. Students will also observe sources of water at Howard Christensen Nature  Center with an emphasis on the importance of the relationship of plants (seeds), animals and people in our watershed.

Secrets of Survival – 3rd Grade

3rd Grade St of MI Science Expectations

3rd Grade Key Concepts

Outdoor and indoor studies give students an opportunity to observe physical characteristics of native plants (flower, stem, roots & leaves) and animals  (backbone, body covering, limbs). Students will identify renewable and non-renewable natural resources with an emphasis on ways that humans are conserving natural resources (human survival).

Go With The Flow – 4th Grade

4th Grade St of MI Science Expectations

4th Grade Key Concepts

The concept of the “web of life” is explored with an emphasis on the flow of energy. While hiking students will search for and identify producers,
consumers, decomposers, predators, prey and more. Students study behavioral adaptations as a means of survival, and reflect on human interaction (or interference) with the food web.

Behaving Like Animals – 5th Grade

5th Grade St of MI Science Expectations

5th Grade Key Concepts

An animal’s behavior and physical characteristics help it survive. Students explore these traits and examine how they are influenced by the environment  and genetics. Examples of extreme changes in environmental conditions (fire, timber harvest, etc.) can be seen and discussed.

Star Creatures – 6th grade

6th Grade St of MI Science Expectations

6th Grade Star Creatures

6th Grade Key Concepts

All organisms interact and form living communities called ecosystems. Students will discover different ecosystems (forest, oak savannah, field/prairie,  wetlands) and how the relationship of the land and living organisms changes over time. Students will study relationships between living organisms (competition, parasitism, symbiosis) and also explore how humans affect change, purposefully and accidentally.

Succession – 7th grade

7th Grade St of MI Science Expectations

7th Grade Key Concepts

Students will learn of how changes in environments are directly affected by natural and human influences. Predictions about future conditions can be made based on the observations of past occurrences.

for 4th-8th graders
(add an extra $4 per student and 2 hours to the regular field trip). Outdoor Survival, Geology, Water Monitoring, or a
Stewardship Project (invasive plant removal, trail maintenance, etc.).

Secondary Programs are tailored to meet multidisciplinary needs for teachers whenever feasible.

Three seasonal programs are the core of HCNC’s secondary unit


Teachers of social studies, art, English, mathematics, history, and science are requested to state their specific needs when registering classes.

These programs  use a scientific approach to nature study with inclusion of social challenges and dilemmas of the present and future.

Exciting methods for teaching secondary course material are possible at HCNC – Give us a call (Cindy) at (616) 675-3158

Some special program possibilities include:

  • Bird study (identification, behavior, and ecology
  • Compass and orienteering
  • Mammal study (identification, behavior, and ecology
  • Aquatic community study and water testing
  • Insect study (identification and ecology)
  • Acid precipitation and effects on nature
  • Wildflower study (identification, habitats, and ecology)
  • Survival techniques (for those lost in the wilds)
  • Tree study (identification, taxonomic key use, forest ecology)
  • Weather & Climate study
  • Observing birds and small animals

Our Interpretive Building offers a variety of learning stations:

  • Bird
  • Mammals
  • Acid Precipitation
  • Insect
  • Aquatic
  • Forestry
  • Soils
  • Many mammals and birds have been prepared for student viewing.


HCNC Tours 

These programs can be add-ons to curriculum above or as an extra for groups that do not want to spend over 2-3 hours in our nature center.  They are great for Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Church outings, Family outings, Organizations looking for a special day, even birthday parties, etc.,

1.    Air Around Us 1.25 hours

From a gentle breeze to a gale, air is always around us, constantly on the move and affecting our lives. In this program, students will explore the ways air is used and needed by plants and animals, and how humans put wind to work. 1st through 3rd grade

 2.    Animal Tracks and Signs 1.25 hours

There are stories in the clues left behind by the animals that live here at HCNC. Learn to find tracks, patterns, signs, nests and scat, then unravel the story of an animal’s adventures from your careful observations. (K – Adult)

 3.    Aquatic Life 1.5 hours

The ponds and wetlands of HCNC are home to a multitude of different plants and animals.

Students will collect, observe, and study aquatic plants and animals in their habitats in this hands-on exploration. (K-6th)

 4.    Bee Ecology (August – September) 1.5 hours

From their role in pollinating crops to the sweet honey they make, bees are an important part of our world. Learn more about their life cycles as you watch a beekeeper open a working hive.

Then watch honey extraction and taste the sweet results. (K – Adult)

 5.    Birds in their Habitats 1.5 hours

Prairies, woodlands, ponds – these are the homes to many species of birds found at the nature center. Hike, observe and identify birds in the various habitats and learn about the adaptations that help them survive. (3rd – Adult)

 6.    Bones, Bones, Bones 1.5 hours

Skeletons provide structure, protection and movement. Students will analyze bones from different animals to compare their forms and functions.(3rd-Adult)

 7.    Ecosystem Exploration 1.5 hours

The Chrishaven Lake allows students to see and experience a variety of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. By exploring this area, students will be able to see not only the ecosystems but also how they blend into one another. (5th – Adult)

 8.    Forestry Exploration 1.5 hour

What does it take to become a forester? Students will practice the skills that foresters use including tree identification with a key and determining a tree’s health, size and age. (4th – Adult)

 9.    Insects 1.5 hours

Grab a net and a jar and we will be off to the prairie and the woods to see what 6-legged creatures live here at HCNC. We will look for eggs and larvae while learning about insects’ life cycles, find predators and prey and catch and release a bug or two. No log shall be left unturned in this insect adventure. (K – 5th)

 10.  Introduction to Prairies 1.5 hours

Explore one of Michigan special biomes – the prairie. Learn about the historical changes that have occurred to prairies and how HCNC is working to restore this invaluable asset. (5th – Adult)

 11.  Mammals 1.5 hours

Investigate the lives of Michigan’s mammals and uncover what foods they prefer to eat. Learn to classify mammals as herbivores, carnivores or omnivores by examining clues from their skulls. (3rd – Adult)

12.  Michigan Wildlife 1.25 hours

What wild animals live where we are? This program will introduce students to some of      Michigan’s wildlife through hands-on experiences with artifacts and visits with live animals. (Pre-K – 1st )

 13.  Orienteering 1.25 hours

Finding your way is a skill. Practice with a compass to find direction and pacing to measure distance. Then use teamwork as small groups head outside to navigate one of our orienteering courses. Compasses are provided. (4th – Adult)

 14.  Papermaking (January) 1 hour

Make your own paper from recycled and natural materials. Students will compare different types of paper and paper products and learn the process of making paper by doing it themselves.

 15.  Physics on the Farm 1.5 hours

From pulleys to levers, ramps to wheels, the farm is filled with simple machines that illustrate principles of physics. Students will discover the physics used in farm machinery, tools and building design, and work together to complete farm tasks using simple tools and physics. (5th – Adult)

16.  Plant Cycles 1.5 hours

What does it take to make a plant thrive? Students will compare the various ways plants compete for their basic needs as well as learn about the cycles that make up many parts of how plants work. They will hike to see plants outdoors and take home their own plant from a cutting. (4th – 8th)

 17.  Plant Diversity 1.5 hours

Through games, discussions and hands-on field experiences, students will gain an understanding of the importance of diversity in a good habitat and how restoration works to reestablish the dynamic variety needed for healthy ecosystems. (4th – 8th)

 18.  Predator-Prey 1.5 hours

Animals know that life boils down to eat or be eaten. Students will explore the complexities of predator-prey relationships by playing a fast-paced game with unexpected consequences that focuses on concepts like habitat, food chains, population dynamics and carrying capacity. (4th – 8th)

 19.  Raptors: Hunters from Above 1.5 hours

Meet one of nature’s most amazing groups of animals – raptors. See a live raptor and participate in hands-on activities to better understand the critical role these birds play in the environment. (3rd – Adult)

 20.  Reptiles and Amphibians 1.25 hours

Discover the world of the cold-blooded creatures as students compare and contrast the reptiles and amphibians in our live animal collection. Students will be able to observe and interact with many native species in this hands-on adventure. (K – Adult)

 21.  Seasons Hike 1 hour

Each season is unique and brings many changes to the land as well as the plants and animals living there. In this program, students will explore the prairies, ponds, and forests of HCNC using their five senses to find the best of what each season has to offer. (Pre K -Adult)

22.  Sky-Watching 1.5 hours

The night sky has been a source of wonder for thousands of years. Today we still gaze in amazement. Participants will learn about our location in the solar system and discover the stories behind constellations. This class is designed for either day or night programs, regardless of the weather. (2nd-Adult)

 23.  Soils 1 hour

Get the “scoop” on soils. Examine the living and non-living components of the soil in some hands-on activities. Learn about the importance and different types of soil as we collect and compare soil samples from the prairie, forest, and wetlands of the nature center. (1st – 4th)

 24.  Sounds of Nature 1.5 hours

Sound surrounds us every day and is an important way for people and animals to gather information about what is happening around us. Learn to identify the sounds found in nature and their patterns. (3rd – Adult)

 25.  Trees 1.25 hours

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Students will be looking for both as they learn what trees need to grow. They will use their senses to explore and discover similarities and differences in the leaves, bark, branches and seeds of the trees of HCNC’s woods. (K-4th)

 26.  Waterworks 1.5 hours

Water is the basis of all life on earth. The quality of water in ponds, lakes, and streams has an impact on our health. Students will examine samples of water from around the HCNC grounds and draw conclusions about how water quality is impacted by activities in and around the property. (4th – Adult)

 27.  Weather Forecasting 1.25 hours

You do not need a Doppler radar or other high tech equipment to predict the weather. The observation of cloud types, air pressure, and wind direction can all be used to formulate a weather forecast. Students will learn the basics of weather as they collect information they will need to predict the weather. (2nd – Adult)

 28.  Wilderness Skills 2 hours

What does it take to survive in the wild? This class gives students insight into how the environment has an impact on humans in a survival situation. Students will be introduced to the skills of fire-building and survival shelter construction. Do you have what it takes to build a shelter and a one-match fire? (3rd – Adult)

 29. Winter Adaptations 1.5 hours

Hike the wintry landscape to observe the strategies used by plants and animals for coping with the cold, snow, ice, wind and drought. When conditions permit, students of all ages will be able to try out our snowshoes. (K – Adult)

 30.  Winter Ecology 1.5 hours

Explore winter through hands-on discovery of the elements that affect the plants and animals coping with the conditions created by cold temperatures, snow and ice. Investigate these unique features of winter by drilling into ice to find out what is happening below the surface of the pond. Make predictions and collect data to learn more about the properties of ice and snow. (4th – Adult)

 31.  Winter Water Walk 1.5 hours (seasonal)

In winter, water can be found in nature as a solid, liquid or a gas. Students will examine snow and ice crystals under a microscope, measure snow and ice conditions, and make and test predictions as they explore water in winter. (1st – 3rd)



Boy Scout Programming (girls programs will be similar)

Your pack may choose a five-hour program or an overnight program from our Tour Programs. We will help cub scouts complete most, if not all of the requirements for their needed badges. Cub Scouts from Wolves through Webelos can explore the outdoor environment and the natural sciences through indoor and outdoor games, projects, stories, and interpretive hikes. Come join us for a wonderful experience enjoying the great outdoors!

Programs will meet electives and badge requirements


Birds, Indentifying, Habitats and more:

Wolf Program
Wolf’s Scouts will be taken for a bird hike through prairies, woodlands and pond areas to observe and identify birds.  They will make feeders, and hear a story about birds. We ask that the Wolfs keep a list of all of the birds they see for one week; they can bring a list of birds they are currently working.


Michigan Wildlife

Bear Program
Bear’s Scouts will discover what wild animals live in Michigan. Program will introduce scouts to some of      Michigan’s wildlife through hands-on experiences with artifacts and visits with live animals as well as our huge array of taxidermy’s. Scouts will learn about Michigan endangered species. We will enjoy a journey into the woods to search for our forest friends and speak of their lives in the wild and so much more.



Webelos Program
Webelo Scouts can earn your Outdoorsman Merit Badge with HCNC! An overnight program of one night and one day for completion. Come prepared to camp outside or in our at Camp Lily’s, we have fire-pits, open camp area and indoor camping if the weather is inclining. Kitchen facility and heat if needed.

Programs for academic belt loops & pins

Forester: Webelos
Explore the trees in the forest! Learn about local forests and go on a hike to identify some native trees of Michigan. How does a tree grow? What does it need to live? You will find out through activities and games.

Naturalist: Webelos
A naturalist is always observing the world around him. We will explore everything we can find outdoors.

Science: Wolf, Bear, and Webelos
Roll up your sleeves and come prepared for some science exploration! Be wowed by the wonders of science through hands-on experiments and discoveries.

Wildlife Conservation: Wolf, Bear, and Webelos
Through games and hands-on activities, learn what it means to be a good steward to the animals that share our planet. We will hike to see natural resources up close and do a small service project to help wildlife.

Plan your outing

Call (616) 675-3158 to arrange a program. Please have the following information ready before you call:

  • Contact Name & Phone Number
  • Program Choice
  • Ideal Dates
  • Group Size

The fee for two-hour programs is $4.75 per scout with a minimum payment of $60. There is no charge for adults.

The fee for overnight programs is $30 per scout with a minimum payment of $300, and a maximum of 35 scouts. There is no charge for adults. Cost includes one of our staff leading your group, activities, snacks, and breakfast. Your group may sleep in the Camp Lily’s housing on floors or outside in your own tents. All overnights are from 5:00 p.m. Friday – 11:00 a.m. Saturday or 5:00 p.m. Saturday – 11:00 a.m. Sunday, and dates are available year around.

Custom programs are available; please call (616) 675-3158 for more information.

Overnight Visits

What you need to know:

  • Cost: $30 per scout. Minimum charge $300
  • Maximum Group Size: 50 scouts
  • Time: From 5:00-9:00 p.m. Friday or Saturday until 7:00-11:00 a.m. Saturday or Sunday
  • Your group may sleep Camp Lily’s on the floor or outside in your own tents (we have three cots and one couch)
  • We require a deposit of the minimum payment within one two weeks from the date you schedule your program
  • Overnight programs can accomplish one or two different badges, depending on the desired badges

How to plan an overnight visit:

  • Number of scouts & their ages; number of adults attending
  • Name of contact person; contact person’s address & phone number

Click here for “Scout Program Registration Form

Eagle Scout “Code of Honor” Suggestions of possible projects please click on the following link below;

Eagle Scout Project Ideas