Secondary School Group

Carpenter’s professional staff conducts quality environmental education programs for more than 10,000 students and their teachers annually. Each program is designed to supplement classroom studies through hands-on learning in the “outdoor classroom.” A small student to naturalist staff ratio (20:1) allows for greater individual learning and enhances the experience for students.

All environmental education program curriculum at CNC is written to be age-appropriate and to enhance science studies. Input from teachers and education specialists are a valuable tool in developing programs. Every program is designed to meet Minnesota and Wisconsin Academic Standards. Class outlines are available upon request for every program.

Secondary School Groups

Programs Available

Some of our programs can only be offered during certain times of the year. Please look closely at the program you wish to schedule and that it is available during the season of your visit. In some cases programs can be modified. Call 651-437-4359 for more information.

  • Adaptations: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Through hands-on activities and live animals, students learn about plant and animal adaptations for survival. Key concepts include Behavioral & Physical adaptations, Camouflage, Predator/Prey Relationships.
  • Birds and Banding: (Fall, Spring) This two part program includes a bird hike with binoculars and field guides as well as an introductions to the scientific process and study of bird banding. Key concepts include Adaptations, Biodiversity, Field Identification, Migration, and Population Monitoring.
  • Ecosystems: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Investigate ecosystems through population sampling, food web simulation, and a game on limiting factors. Different ecosystems are visited by different groups and are compared during the conclusion.
  • Geocaching: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Learn the basics of using a GPS unit through the fun sport of geocaching. Hunt for caches hidden around the CNC property using this modern form of orienteering.
  • Geology: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Observe examples of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Participate in a “timeline of the earth” and a “rock investigation.”
  • Invertebrates: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Learn about animal classification by catching arthropods, annelids, and mollusks.
  • Map and Compass: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Take part in the sport of orienteering by learning how to use a compass, read a map, and combine the skills to compete on a timed course. Key concepts include Map Reading, Compass Skills, Orienteering, and Teamwork.
  • Maple Syruping: (March only) Help CNC make maple syrup by identifying, tapping and collecting sap from a maple tree. Observe the boiling process and taste pure maple syrup. Dress to get muddy. Key concepts include Tree Anatomy & Physiology, Seasonal Changes, Tree Identification, Plant Uses, and Native American Culture.
  • Plants and People: (Fall, Spring) Explore human/plant interaction by visiting the restored prairie, apple orchard, and seeing plant products. Key concepts include Human Impact, Cultural Uses, Biodiversity, Aesthetic Value, and Habitats.
  • Renewable Energy: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Students conduct experiments to discover alternate forms of energy within renewable resources.
  • Snowshoeing: (Winter- Greater than 6 inches of snow) After a snowshoe demonstration, strap on a pair and go for a guided hike looking for winter ecology. Students must wear boots. CNC cannot provide snowshoes for students under 10 years of age.  If snow conditions are not adequate, your group may choose to reschedule, choose a new topic, or choose a guided ecology hike on foot. Key concepts include Winter Ecology, Adaptations, Seasonal Changes, Recreation, and Native American Culture.
  • Water Erosion: (Fall, Spring) Discover what erosion is, what causes it and ways to prevent it through hands-on experimentation and games. Key concepts include Erosion, Resource Management, Landscape Formation, and Experimentation.
  • Water Quality: (Fall, Spring) Monitor water quality in CNC’s wetland or the St. Croix River by conducting abiotic and biotic tests. Compare results to determine overall conclusion. Wear shoes that can get wet. Key concepts include Biodiversity, Experimentation, Indicator Species, and Water Quality Monitoring.
  • Weather and Phenology: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Use meteorology equipment to analyze current weather conditions and make a forecast. Look at phenology and discuss seasonal changes. Key concepts include Weather, Meteorology, Phenology, and Predictions/ Forecasting.
  • Wetlands: (Fall, Spring) Explore the diversity of life, human impact, and adaptations present in the wetland habitat. Dress to get wet & muddy. Key concepts include Wetland Habitat, Diversity, Indicator Species, Human Uses, Analogies, Human Impact and Adaptations.
  • Wilderness Survival: (Fall, Winter, Spring) Discuss human survival needs and work in small teams to cooperate, make a signal, make a fire, and construct a shelter. Key concepts include Human Survival Needs, Hypothermia, Frostbite, Teamwork, and Positive Attitude.

Scheduling Dates
Reservations for each season will be taken after the following dates:

School Year – May 1

Summer – January 1

$5.00 per child/ 65 child max

Certified teachers and Student Aids are FREE

$5.00 per additional adult chaperone

$50.00 program minimum

Group Size
Group sizes should be at least 10 participants. Please call to discuss options for larger groups. Given enough time in advance, we can arrange classes for larger groups.

Mobility Limitations
CNC welcomes all participants regardless of abilities. Please inform us if there will be a participant with limited mobility when scheduling so that we may make appropriate accommodations.

Medical Emergencies
CNC staff is First Aid & CPR certified and trained to respond to emergencies. However, participants must bring their own medication if necessary.

CNC staff is prepared to deal with most discipline situations. A naturalist may ask for the teacher’s assistance if problems arise.

Accommodations for the Weather
The majority of programs take place outside. It is essential that leaders properly prepare participants to dress for the weather and the chance of getting dirty. CNC staff is prepared to go out in any weather. Leaders are responsible for canceling or rescheduling if participants aren’t prepared for the field trip.