We have been in the midst of an exciting new native demonstration garden project since June 2018, which involves major construction around the Bunker Interpretive Center. Unfortunately it is necessary to suspend spring programs this year due to scheduling and staffing issues attributable to the project. We miss working with our schools, but look forward to having a beautiful new educational space to explore with your students in the future.
Bring your curious students to the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens for a valuable experience with science in the great outdoors. Our leaders encourage students to use all their senses, to experience nature in way that will give them a better understanding of the concepts presented in your classroom. We offer enthusiastic leaders, low leader-student ratios, and reasonable fees. Our programs are aligned with the Michigan Science Grade Level Content Expectations, and are led by environmental educators and Calvin College student program leaders.
Below are our most popular school programs. Click on the link to download our Program Information Sheets with the description of the program, state education standards correlations, and suggested pre-and-post activities to complement your visit.
- Sensory Adventures: Exploring Nature Using Our Senses for PreK and kindergarten classes (fall and spring)
- Amazing Animals of West Michigan for grades 1-3 (fall and spring)
- Beech Maple Forest Exploration for grades 3-6 (fall and spring)
- Michigan's Terrific Trees for grades 1-3 (fall only)
- Michigan's Terrific Trees for grades 4-6 (fall only)
- Wildflowers in the Spring for grades 2-6 (spring only)
Depending on the size of the group, grade level, season, and the availability of our staff, we can also teach programs on the following topics: Birds in the Winter, Birds in the Spring, Gyotaku Art Class (fish printing), Life in a Pond (aquatic macroinvertebrates), Michigan's Frogs and Reptiles, Naked Trees & Winter Twigs, Nature Journaling and Sketching, Seeds, Wild Turkeys, White-tailed Deer, and Winter Weather (weather permitting). Contact Jeanette Henderson to discuss the details.
7th–12th grade students
We can also lead general natural history walks through the Preserve discussing more about the plants and animals that live here and the research projects conducted at the preserve. Building tours showcasing our composting toilets, gray water treatment system, and other green building features are also available. Contact Jeanette Henderson to discuss the details.
Beech Maple Forest unit plan
This unit plan was created for teachers in the Great Lakes region to use in their classrooms to learn more about Beech Maple Forests and to complement our Beech Maple Forest Exploration Program. The unit includes five lesson plans correlated to Michigan’s GLCE standards for first through third grades, and accompanying background information and handouts. Lesson plans include:
Make a day of it at Calvin!
With the opening of the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum on Calvin's campus, teachers are taking advantage of having two wonderful educational resources in one location. If you are planning a unit on geology, rocks, or soil for your class, consider visiting the Dice Museum in conjunction with the Ecosystem Preserve!
To schedule a program, please contact Julie Wilbourn. Please have the following information available:
- School/organization name and names of teachers
- Contact information (phone number and email)
- Desired program topic
- Preferred dates/times and alternates
- Grade level and number of students and adults
- Any special needs/requests
Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Confirmations will be emailed before your visit. Please distribute the information to all participating teachers, and inform us of any changes.
Don't let the cost of busing prevent your students from experiencing the Preserve. These grants are easy to apply for, do not require matching funds, and offer significant financial aid. Visit the Wheels to Woods and Michigan Nature Association websites for more information.
Did you know your students don't need to be in a forest or field to experience nature? Local schoolyards work just as well! Check out our educators newsletters—a great resource for inspiring teaching ideas that you can use in your classroom each season.
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Educators, please visit our Pinterest page for helpful natural science resources.