Riveredge School Programs


This school year, we invite you to take your students beyond their textbooks, into the hands-on, inquiry-based, outdoor experience that is Riveredge Nature Center. Nestled in 379 acres of diverse terrain at the intersection of Ozaukee, Washington, and Sheboygan Counties, we incite age-specific exploration and activities for PRE-K through 8th Grade, and select high school programming – that engenders curiosity and interest in your classroom curriculum.

What makes our experiences unique?




We keep group sizes small so that the opportunities for learning and participation can be HUGE.



Our programs align with both WI and Next Generation Science Standards so your trip can be an extension of what your students are already learning.



With ponds, prairies, rivers, raptors, and everything in between, we can help bring any subject to life.



Because all students should have access to the health, happiness, and academic benefits of learning outside. 



We know budgets are tight. That's why we work to subsidize programs so they are both effective and affordable. 



Celebrating 50 years as SE WI's first nature center in 2018, we bring five decades of environmental education leadership to all our programs.

The field trip met my students’ needs by allowing them to see and discover things they can now look for in their backyards. The explanations given to the students were on their level, making them so engaged I felt like at times they were so into what they were learning they didn’t want to move on to the next thing.

1st grade teacher, Concordia University School

Dear Riveredge,

Thank you for all of your time and effort you took to help us learn about microscopes, observations, and giving us the opportunity to see amazing things that we definitely do not see every day! Thank you for giving me the skill of careful observation that I use every day in Science class. I loved looking so close at plants and animals, it really opened my eyes and gave me a new love for science. Thank you for everything!

4th grade student

Thank you for a season of meaningful experiences. Your programs help students see themselves as a part of the natural world. They become more invested, as stewards of planet earth, because they care. The students gain knowledge and skills from naturalists who have a wealth of experience that is shared in fun and engaging ways that help students learn.”

6th Grade Teacher, St Mary Parish School

Thank you so much for the fun and informative field trip! The kids loved it and were very engaged! Thanks, also, for including my two students in wheelchairs – they had a ball!

3rd Grade Teacher, Rockfield Elementary

Extend your experience


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    School Partnerships

    Partnerships between local schools or school districts and Riveredge Nature Center provide ongoing, recurring exposure to nature-based learning throughout all grades. The repeated exposure to inquiry-based learning outdoors allows students to build knowledge throughout grade levels while also inspiring and supporting teachers along the way. Partnering schools commit to a combination of at least one learning experience at Riveredge or one school based outreach program each year for each grade level. Deeper relationships are developed between Riveredge educators and teachers, while also providing priority scheduling and tailored programs for the schools.

    Riveredge Nature Center is a Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin Provider. Schools who engage in a formal partnership with Riveredge may choose to receive assistance in becoming a Green & Healthy School.

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    Professional Development

    Are you interested in learning how to more concretely incorporate environmental education lessons into your students’ day? Are you looking for a unique professional development opportunity? At Riveredge Nature Center, our Environmental Education staff are certified facilitators of the following environmental education standards-aligned resources: Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), Project WILD (wildlife-focused conservation education), Project Learning Tree (trees as initial focus), and Flying WILD (birds as initial focus, primarily middle school audience). If you are interested in inviting a Riveredge Nature Center Environmental Educator to lead a teacher training of any one or more of these materials at your school, please call Riveredge at 262-375-2715 for more details.

Program Offerings


Take a look at this overview of the wonderful program offerings we have for all seasons and ages here at Riveredge, and scroll down to find more details on the specific programs you might have interest in! 

Interested in having an educator come out to your school for an outreach program instead? We can absolutely do that! Click here to see a listing of our outreach options and click here to apply for one of these outreach programs!

Program Offerings


Josie, Charlie & Ryan in the Vernal Pond

Exploring The Vernal Pond

1.5 - 2 hours
A vernal pond presents an amazing and extraordinary ecosystem teeming with life! An adventure-filled hike leads to a vernal pond brimming with aquatic organisms. From a floating boardwalk, students collect those animals and learn about the unique watery world they call home.
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Vernal Pond Life

3 hours
A vernal pond presents an amazing and extraordinary ecosystem teeming with life. Collect organisms from a floating boardwalk and explore interrelationships that maintain life in this temporary pond.
students farm pond

Pond Interactions

3 hours
A pond is an ever-changing ecosystem made up of countless interactions that link living things to one another and to their surroundings. Uncover connections in the pond that are reflections of larger ecosystems. Collect macroinvertebrates, examine them under a microscope and create a pond interactions mural to take back to school.

River Reflections: Adaptations

3 hours
A river beckons to be explored. Put on a pair of hip boots and step into the river community. Use a kick-net to collect macroinvertebrates hidden beneath the water’s surface. Discover how aquatic macroinvertebrates are adapted to find food, breathe oxygen, protect themselves and move against the current in a river ecosystem.

River Reflections: Biotic/Abiotic Interactions

3 hours
A river beckons to be explored. Put on a pair of hip boots and step into the river community. Use a kick-net to collect macroinvertebrates hidden beneath the water’s surface. A river is a set of interactions between living and non-living things. Use scientific tests to evaluate abiotic factors and discover how these components interact and influence one another within the river ecosystem.
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Energy Flow In The Pond

3 hours
With the pond as a model, explore how energy that originates from the sun keeps changing shape and form as it moves through an aquatic ecosystem. Collect macroinvertebrates, examine them under a microscope and discover the intricate food web of the pond.
collecting 1

Determining Water Quality

3 or 5 hours
Using the river as a lab, learn about water quality by conducting chemical and physical tests. Collect aquatic invertebrates and use a biotic index to see how these organisms are indicators of water quality. The three-hour program takes place entirely outdoors at the river. The five-hour program includes microscopes to identify organisms in the classroom.

Testing The Waters

At Riveredge or in your school's community
The primary goal of the Testing The Waters program is to increase the capacity of teachers to utilize the Milwaukee River basin as a learning lab for students to research and collect hands-on water quality data. Nearly thirty years since inception, the program has engaged more than 40,000 students and over 120 teachers from 50+ schools in seven southeastern Wisconsin Great Lakes counties in water quality education and testing.
Program Offerings



Wisconsin's Glacial Landscapes

3 or 5 hours
In this student-led quest, travel back in time 10,000 years to when the glaciers of Wisconsin retreated. Use scientific tools such as wind meters, soil probes and thermometers to explore the clues the glaciers left behind—incredible kettle, moraine, kame and esker landforms! At each destination, visit a sandbox to enact how the landform was created. Along the way, test rocks to discover their origins and determine how human activities can be changed to impact the land more positively.
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The Dirt On Soils

3 or 5 hours
Almost everything on earth can be called by another name-“temporarily not soil.” Explore the wonders of soil while participating in an inquiry to uncover soil’s role as the foundation of all life. Unearth the secret soil ingredients that interact to give us healthy food.
Program Offerings


students with bug box

Incredible Insects

1.5 - 2 hours
With sweep nets and bug boxes in hand, set off to discover the many amazing insects that inhabit the Riveredge prairies in autumn. During our exploration we will get a close-up look at these fascinating creatures and learn how they eat, fly, jump and enrich our world. An art activity may be added to this program upon request.

Winter Sensitizing

1.5 - 2 hours
Become a nature detective and use all five senses to explore the winter world! Smell, taste and touch different colors, sizes and shapes. Listen like a deer, search for tracks left behind by animals and follow your nose to discover nature’s clues. With sufficient snow cover, snowshoes may be worn.
homeschoolers at play area

A Log's Life

1.5 - 2 hours
After a tree falls in the forest, it has another life as home to a variety of creatures. Learn about the life cycle of trees and discover the many creatures that depend on forests. A variety of exploratory and sensory experiences allow students to follow their curiosity and get an up-close experience in this unique habitat.

Art in Nature: My World

2 hours
Practice observation skills through outdoor art-making activities. Create a reflective art project that connects students with their experiences in nature. An art component can be attached to many of our other programs by special request. Explore an ecosystem through drawing, and create mini-environments for favorite forest and prairie animals.
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Garden Explorations

1.5 - 2 hours
Dig into dirt in the Riveredge Children’s Organic Garden. Experiment with soil, water and seeds to discover how plants grow and provide food for humans. The program concludes with harvesting and a stop in the kitchen to enjoy a fresh, seasonal snack!
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Maple Sugarin' Magic

1.5 - 2 hours
When the days grow warmer and longer, the forest comes alive with the rhythm of flowing sap. Join us in the sugar bush during this special time of year and learn first-hand how to tap a sugar maple tree. Enjoy a seasonal treat produced by this old friend!

Fruits of Fall

2 hours
Enjoy an exploration of seed dispersal strategies and the concept that fruit is a seed container. Visit the Riveredge Children’s Organic Garden and sample what’s in season (weather permitting). The program includes a surprise meeting with Johnny Appleseed and discovering how apple cider is made!
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Looking At Life

2 hours
Come explore forest and pond habitats and put your scientific skills into action! Living things change in fascinating ways throughout their lives. Collect pond animals such as dragonfly larvae and diving beetles, and discover what they look like at different stages of their life cycles. Become a scientist at Riveredge and learn how to classify things to discover more about them. Go on a hunt for forest objects, notice their different shapes, sizes, smells, and textures, and group them based on their characteristics.
Sensitizing Insect


2 hours
Natural things come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, odors, tastes and sounds. Learn about the diversity of nature through a unique variety of sensory experiences. Depending on the season, students may find themselves collecting an array of leaves in the autumn woods, taste-testing herbs and vegetables in the garden or snowshoeing through a winter wonderland!
Community Explorations Walking in Forest

Community Explorations

2.5 hours
Communities and the plants and animals that depend on them are both unique and interconnected. A variety of exploratory and sensory experiences allow students to follow their curiosity and get an up-close experience of two very different worlds.
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Maple Sugarin'

2.5 hours
The sweetness of spring, the miracle of photosynthesis and the magic of Maple Sugarin’ are presented in a fast-paced tour of the largest educational sugarbush in southeastern Wisconsin. Experience Wisconsin’s history with special emphasis placed on Native American traditions. To top it off, students tap a tree and enjoy the “fruits of their labor” on a pancake.
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Life In Winter

2.5 hours
With a treasure map and a set of wintry clues, set off to discover the relationship between animals and their habitats. By examining animal tracks and other signs, discover the skills of observing and making inferences. By this frosty adventure’s end, the puzzle is complete and the mysteries of winter survival are solved! With sufficient snow cover, snowshoes may be worn.

Art in Nature: Patterns

2.5 hours
Practice observation skills through outdoor art-making activities. Create a reflective art project that connects students with their experiences in nature. Discover patterns in nature through observation of Riveredge collections and outdoor explorations. Complete an abstract drawing project that contributes to a group art piece.
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2.5 hours
Experience the prairies or forests of Riveredge and see how plants and insects adapt to survive in their niches. With scientific tools and exploration activities, discover the importance of structural, functional and behavioral adaptations that make the natural world so interesting and diverse!

Exploring With A Microscope

2.5 hours
Explore the world of the very small—it’s far more fascinating than students could ever envision using their eyes alone. Using a microscope, students work at their own pace to examine non-living and living things.
Bird Adaptations

Basically Birds

2.5 hours
Follow the clues on a search to discover the mysteries of Wisconsin birds! Their intriguing behavior, special adaptations and surprising survival strategies are sure to amaze students and get them hooked on birds wherever they find them.
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Communities And Ecosystems

3 or 5 hours
Diverse ecosystems that provide for the needs of countless organisms are around every corner. Dive into two vastly different communities and discover the interdependent layers of life within each. Discover similarities and differences between these communities using scientific tools and hands-on activities.

Winter Wildlife Habitat

2.5 hours
Discover the relationship between animals and their habitats. Hands-on activities and experiments allow students to explore the impact of winter’s limiting factors such as animals’ heat loss, cover and food availability. With sufficient snow cover, snowshoes may be worn.

Protecting Wisconsin's Ecosystems

3 hours
Encounter the complex issue of invasive, non-native and aggressive species in Wisconsin. Students will use their creativity and knowledge of plant adaptations to create models of potential plant invaders. Our knowledgeable staff will use these models to introduce stories of invasive species and management techniques. Students will participate in a service-learning project that will help to restore the Riveredge sanctuary. They will leave with a better understanding of the issue of invasive species and what they personally can do to help heal our state!
Program Offerings


Looking for a unique experience perfect for a team building initiative or class reward? Riveredge’s adventure programs offer a unique blend of experience and innovation that no one else can match. Our dedicated facilitators all have a few things in common: extensive training, a personal love of the outdoors, and the Riveredge passion for making adventure and exploration something that is accessible and enjoyable for everyone. If interested in applying for one or more of these programs, please call Steff Merten, Adventure Education Manager, at 262-375-2715.

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Recreational Tree Climbing

2 hours per session, $25 per climber with a $250 minimum
Under the guidance of our trained facilitators, your students will reach new heights. Climbers use the same professional equipment as arborists and scientists to ascend into the treetops. After we fit students with helmets and harnesses, we will teach them how to use our rope system to climb and descend safely. Once they reach a height comfortable for them, they will be ready to swing, spin, bounce, walk on branches, or just hang out in a tree. The adventure is theirs!

Kayaking Or Canoeing At Yahr Park

3 hours, $25 per person for kayaks, $20 per person for canoes with a $250 minimum
Join an adventure guide for an unforgettable paddling experience that begins with safety and ends with a splash! Students will explore a watery ecosystem while developing a mix of knowledge and skills. All equipment and training is provided by our expert facilitators!
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1.5 hours, $5 per student with a $70 minimum
Learn the basics of geocaching and how to use a hand-held GPS (global positioning system) device. Explore the Riveredgeclandscape and search for hidden caches. GPS units provided and program time can be extended upon request!



An important question! We believe environmental education should be affordable and accessible to all, as do our generous sponsors and donors, who help us underwrite a significant portion of the costs of these programs. 

Fees are $5 per student for a 1.5 hour program, $7 per student for an 2-3 hour (half day) program, $10 per student for 5-hour programs and $12 per student for two different half-day programs ($50 minimum).

One chaperone for each group of 10-12 students is required. A max of 3 chaperones per student group may attend at no additional cost. The program fee will be applied for additional chaperones.

Payment must be received at least two weeks prior to the scheduled class date. 


We try to do our very best to work with you to find a date that works on both ends. Scheduling is handled on a first-come, first-served basis subject to program availability. Applications must be submitted by the end of April to receive a program confirmation by the end of May for fall programs. Confirmations for Winter programs will be mailed at the end of October, Maple Sugarin’ programs at the end of December, and Spring programs at the end of January.

Riveredge staff will schedule your program around the conflicting dates you provide and when conditions at Riveredge are best suited for the program requested.


We hate to see you go, but understand situations come up. If a school cancels a program, or the class size is reduced by 20 or more students less than 6 weeks before the date of the trip, the school will be charged a $40 fee per program. If weather causes a program to be cancelled, Riveredge will attempt to find an alternate date or will refund the entire program.


We're so excited to work with you! Click here to easily apply online for a program or if you'd prefer, click here for a PDF paper copy of the registration form that can be faxed to 262-375-2714, emailed to riveredge@riveredge.us, or mailed to Riveredge Nature Center, P.O. Box 26, Newburg, WI 53060.

Preparing For A Program?

Already applied for a program and were accepted? We're so happy to have you! To prepare for your program, access our handy-dandy What to Know Before You Go checklist. Inside you'll find a link to our Teacher Guides with excellent pre and post activities that you can take back to class. We would also highly recommend you be sure to read our Discipline Policy and Chaperone Information so you can help us help you ensure this day goes off without a hitch!

Don't see your question here?

Just let us know! We're always happy to discuss any questions or needs as we work together to make the perfect experience for your students. 

Kacey Tait, our Inquiry-Based Curriculum and Instruction Manager, can be reached for questions by phone at 262-375-2715 or through email at ktait@riveredge.us.