Riveredge School Programs

379 ACRES OF HANDS-ON LEARNING

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, Riveredge invites exploration and investigation.  Our age-specific programs reach students from preschool through high school and help promote real-world examples and interest in your classroom curriculum.

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

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SMALL GROUP SIZES

We keep student/teacher ratios small so that opportunities for learning and participation can be HUGE.

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ALIGNED WITH STANDARDS

Our programs align with both WSS and NGSS so your trip can be an extension of what your students are already learning.

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DIVERSE 379 ACRES

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

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SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE

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

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$5-10 PER STUDENT

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

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50 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

Celebrating 50 years in 2018, we bring five decades of environmental education leadership to all our programs.

Already coming to Riveredge?

PREPARE FOR A PROGRAM

How much do these programs cost?

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 10 chaperones 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. 

How does scheduling work?

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 in November, Maple Sugarin’ programs in January, 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.

What if I need to cancel?

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 $50 fee per program. If weather causes a program to be canceled, Riveredge will attempt to find an alternate date or will refund the entire program. Please let us know as soon as you can. (262) 375-2715

Do you have accomodations for students with special needs?

Yes! We want everyone to enjoy Riveredge. We have an all-terrain wheelchair available for use with a parent's permission slip, a sensory-friendly tub (headphones, fidgets, etc.) and can provide alternative activities for students within the visitor's center geared towards their ability. Please let us know when you fill out your application or call 262-416-1503 to arrange for accomodations. 

How can I prepare for a program? Are there Teacher Guides?

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, which includes suggestions as well as our discipline and chaperone information. Inside you'll find a link to our Teacher Guides with excellent pre and post activities that you can take back to class. All of this reading is highly recommend to help ensure your Riveredge day goes off without a hitch!

Who can I contact with questions?

Still have questions? We'd love to answer them!

Contact Kacey Tait, Inquiry-Based Curriculum and Instruction Manager at ktait@riveredge.us or 262-416-1503 or call our general office at 262-375-2715

Program Offerings

AT A GLANCE

Below is an overview of the wonderful variety of programs offered at Riveredge for all seasons and ages. Scroll down or click below to find more details on the specific programs you might have interest in! Apply here! 

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Program Offerings

AQUATIC SCIENCES

Exploring the Vernal Pond

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. 1.5 - 2 hours. Spring.

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Vernal Pond Life

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. 3 hours. Spring.

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Pond Interactions

Uncover biotic and abiotic 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. 3 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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River Reflections: Adaptations

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. 3 hours. Fall/Spring.

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River Reflections: Abiotic/Biotic Interactions

Ready for a river investigation? A river is full of interactions between living and non-living things. Strap on a pair of waders, step into the Milwaukee River and use real scientific tests to explore how biotic and abiotic components interact and influence one another within the river ecosystem. 3 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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Energy Flow in the Pond

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. 3 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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Determining Water Quality

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. 3 or 5 hours. Fall/Spring. 

Program Offerings

EARTH SCIENCES

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Wisconsin's Glacial Landscape

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. 3 or 5 hours. Fall/Spring.

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The Dirt on Soils

 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. 3 or 5 hours. Fall/Spring. 

Program Offerings

LIFE SCIENCES

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Incredible Insects

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. 1.5 - 2 hours. Fall. 

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A Log's Life

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. 1.5 - 2 hours. Fall/Spring.

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Maple Sugarin' Magic

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! 1.5 - 2 hours. Spring. 

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Winter Sensitizing

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. 1.5 - 2 hours. Winter.

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Garden Explorations

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! 1.5 - 2 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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Art in Nature

Practice observation skills through outdoor art-making activities. Create a reflective art project that connects students with their experiences in nature. Explore an ecosystem through drawing, find nature's patterns, or design mini-environments for animals. 2-2.5 hours. All seasons. 

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Sensitizing

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! 2 hours. All Seasons.

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Fruits of Fall

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! 2 hours. Fall. 

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Looking at Life

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. 2 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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Community Explorations

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 habitats. 2.5 hours. Fall/Spring. 

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Maple Sugarin'

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. 2.5 hours. Spring (March). 

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Life in Winter

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. 2.5 hours. Winter.  

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Adaptations

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! 2.5 hours. Fall/Spring.  

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Exploring with a Microscope

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. 2.5 hours. Winter.  

Bird Adaptations

Basically Birds

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. 2.5 hours. All seasons.  

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Communities and Ecosystems

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. 3 or 5 hours. Fall/Spring.  

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Winter Wildlife Habitat

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. 2.5 hours. Winter.  

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Explore and Restore

Adapted from Protecting Wisconsin's Ecosystems. Team up with Habitat Healers to participate in real land management techniques that are used to protect natural biodiversity. Search for native, invasive, and aggressive species in forests, prairies, and ponds. Learn how varying techniques like controlled burning, invasive removal, and erosion control help protect unique ecosystems. Restoration activities will vary by season. 3 hours. Fall/Spring.  

Program Offerings

OUTREACH

All outreach programs are led by Riveredge Environmental Educators and take place outdoors at the school or a nearby park. Programs last 1-1.5 hours. More than one program can be scheduled on the same day to accommodate multiple classes.  

Sensitizing

Natural things come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, odors, tastes, and sounds. Learn about the diversity of nature through a variety of engaging sensory experiences in the outdoors.

Wiggle Worms

Who comes out to play on a rainy day? Roll logs, dig in the soil and sift through vermicompost to uncover wiggling worms. Discover how many important jobs worms have in nature!

Insects & Their Kin

Discover the incredible diversity of invertebrates and explore how they survive. Collect and examine little creatures using sweep nets and bug boxes, and learn how they are responsible for healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people.

Oh Deer, It's Cold Out Hare

Learn how deer and rabbits survive in winter by focusing on their adaptations. Through hands-on activities, discover the changes that take place in winter and search for animal signs in the outdoors.

Water Cycle Adventure

Through hands-on activities, investigate the water cycle and discover how it travels through natural systems. Play an interactive game to create a unique water cycle story.

Bird Adaptations

Be amazed to discover the special adaptations, intriguing behavior and surprising survival strategies that birds have to help them survive. After looking at mounted specimens of birds, embark on a bird scavenger hunt to take a closer look at their adaptations.

Adaptations/Food Chains

Unlock the secrets of how plants an animals adapta to survive in their habitats and explore the role that adaptations play in food chain interactions.

Mouse Day

Meet the animals responsible for those mysterious tunnels found in grass and snow. Search for signs of three small mammals that play such a vital role in Wisconsin ecosystems. With luck, we may even encounter a live mouse on our search resulting in great excitement for us - and the mouse!

Food Webs

Participate in an interactive game to demonstrate how energy moves through a food chain. Embark on a food web scavenger hunt and discover the importance of interconnectedness.

Energy Solutions

Discover how energy that originates from the sun keeps changing shape and form as it moves through the ecosystem. Collect organisms and discover an intricate food web. Using nature as a model, explore a variety of renewable energy solutions including solar panels.

Life in Winter

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, develop the skills of observing and making inferences. By this frosty adventure's end, the puzzle of winter survival is complete.
Program Offerings

ADVENTURE EDUCATION

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 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 ascend, they will be able to swing, spin, bounce, walk on branches, or just hang out in a tree.
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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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Geocaching

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!
Extend your experience

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

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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

    Looking for a unique professional development opportunity to help better incorporate environmental education into your students' day? At Riveredge Nature Center, our Environmental Educators are certified facilitators of Project WET (Water Focus), Project WILD (Wildlife Focus), Project Learning Tree (Tree and resource management focus), and Flying WILD (Bird Focus). If you are interested in a teacher training of any one or more of these materials at your school, please call Riveredge at 262-375-2715 for more details.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS?

Contact Kacey Tait at ktait@riveredge.us or 262-416-1503