Schools & Tours Info
HCNC Field Trip Registration Form click here
School Field Trip Brochure download here
School Field Trip Scheduling Information:
To make a reservation: Call (616) 675-3158 or fax in registration (616) 675-4123
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 $4.50 per child
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
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
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
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, animals and people in our watershed.
Secrets of Survival – 3rd Grade
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
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
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
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
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
- NATURE PREPARES FOR WINTER (FALL PROGRAM)
- WINTER INVESTIGATIONS
- SPRING INVESTIGATIONS
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:
- Acid Precipitation
- Many mammals and birds have been prepared for student viewing.
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)