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Check out our Calendar for upcoming programs like our Museum Open House, Meet the North American Porcupine, ‘Tis the Season for Crafts, and One-Day Fun Day!

ATTENTION: The White Woods Rd. bridge is now open!  

School/Group Programs



Dear Teachers and Group Leaders,

Are you looking for an affordable, stress-free field trip or outreach program that fosters an appreciation for nature? Look no further than Litchfield Hills’ own White Memorial Conservation Center! School groups, homeschool organizations, scout troops, and all other groups with participants ranging from preschoolers to adults are encouraged to schedule a nature experience with us by calling 860-567-0857.

FIELD TRIPS
Located conveniently off of Route 202 in rural Litchfield, CT, White Memorial provides an array of opportunities to learn about our natural world for groups as small as 10 students to as large as 120 at a time.  White Memorial Conservation Center is nestled within the 4,000 acre wildlife sanctuary of The White Memorial Foundation. This expanse of diverse habitats provides an ideal “outdoor classroom” for promoting awareness, understanding, and respect for the natural world.

White Memorial is known for its 40-mile network of hiking trails, including a newly-updated self-guided Interpretive Trail that leaves from the Main Area and makes a convenient 1/2 mile loop. The use of our entire 4,000 acre outdoor property is completely free and open to the public. Challenge your students with this Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. You may also choose to visit the Gift Shop (in the yellow building) while you’re in the Main Area.

Did you know we also have a quality, interactive Nature Museum that captivates people of all ages? The discounted group fee for Museum admission is $3/person (must be 10 or more people). Feel free to use this Museum Scavenger Hunt if you would like to further engage your students while they go through the Museum.

To top it all off, we offer almost three dozen guided education programs to choose from, taught by experienced professional educators. White Memorial Conservation Center has established a tradition of providing quality environmental education programming since 1964. Our programs complement Next Generation Science Standards, as well as CT Curriculum Standards and CT ELD Standards where appropriate. Let us help you incorporate environmental education into your curriculum, or enhance your current studies. Programs (listed below) take place either in the classroom of the Nature Museum or out on the grounds of White Memorial. Typical programs last 45 minutes and cost $95 each (max. 30 people per program).* If you book just one of our education programs, admission to the Museum becomes FREE! We don’t want budget restraints to be the reason why your students aren’t getting exposed to nature. So, we try to make our opportunities as affordable as possible. We even have financial aid available to qualified schools.

*Due to the time it takes to meet multiple badge requirements, scout programs last up to 1 ½ hours and cost $120.

From hiking a trail to visiting the Museum to participating in a guided program, there is so much to do here! Rotations can be set up for larger groups. When lunchtime rolls around, we have plenty of lawn space and picnic tables for your whole group.

Unlike some of the larger museums and field trip destinations in the area, White Memorial is nestled in a rural environment that is easy to get to and uniquely serene. We don’t get flooded by big crowds and you sure won’t encounter many traffic jams around here! You also won’t feel like you’re getting funneled through a never-ending procession of school groups. Frankly, we think you’ll find the atmosphere here pretty laid back, which is the perfect setting for learning about the beautiful natural world around us.

OUTREACHES
Can’t make it to us? We’ll come to you! Most of the education programs we offer onsite can also be presented in your classroom. Many of them even include the appearance of a live critter or two, such as a snake or bird of prey! Program descriptions are listed below, along with the Next Generation and CT Science Standards they complement. If you do not see a program that meets your needs, we can customize a program for your group.

Typical outreach programs last 45 minutes – 1 hour and cost $175 plus 54¢ per mile round-trip from White Memorial.* Replicate programs (on the same day) are $130. Maximum audience size for one outreach program is 50 people. More than 50 people is considered an assembly, which costs $210 for the first assembly plus 54¢ per mile round-trip from White Memorial. Replicate assemblies (on the same day) are $185.

*We also offer a shortened outreach program for preschoolers (30 minutes), which costs $130 as opposed to the typical $175. The most appropriate programs for preschoolers are those listed below with CT ELD Standards accompanying them.

Call 860-567-0857 to schedule your nature experience with White Memorial Conservation Center!

Sincerely,
Carrie Szwed
Education Director

See Our Programs in Action!

Program Descriptions

(Note: The first number in each standard corresponds to the suggested grade level.)

A Peek at Populations

Using toothpicks known as “sticklers” to represent real creatures, we will simulate population dynamics in two distinct scenarios. After creating data maps for each population, students will combine their data and interpret the potential factors that are influencing these “sticklers.” A live animal will be featured at the end. This program takes 1 full hour and, unfortunately, does not work well in a rotation schedule.
NGSS: (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,C; SEP: Constructing Explanations; Analyzing & Interpreting Data; Using Models; Carrying Out Investigations; Obtaining & Evaluating Information; CC: Patterns; Scale, Proportion, & Quantity; Systems


A Plant’s Life

Students will learn all about the life cycles of several flowering plants, including their seed germination, growth, flowering, pollination, and seed dispersal.
NGSS: (2)-LS2.A; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; SEP: Using Models
CT Curriculum Standard: 2.2.a


Animal Adaptations

We’ll use natural props, animals mounts, and a couple of live animals to illustrate the definition of an adaptation and show how adaptations help animals survive in different environments. Children will break into groups at the end and propose their own explanations for how the prop they’re given serves as an adaptation.
NGSS: (3)-LS4.B,C; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; (MS)-LS4.B,C; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information; CC: Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: 3.2.a, 5.2.a


Animal Appetites

Using animal mounts and at least 1 live animal as teaching tools, we’ll define (or review) the different levels of a food chain/web (using the terms herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, and decomposer for older groups) and find out what special features these animals have for acquiring their food.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; SEP: Using Models; Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information; CC: Systems & System Models; Energy & Matter; Patterns
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.b


Birding Basics Walk

Do birds seem “over your head” literally and figuratively? Birding can become a fun lifelong hobby once you learn some of the basics of bird identification and observation. On this stroll, we’ll practice using binoculars while scoping the Main Area for common birds, which will be identified by sight and sound.
(2)-LS4.D; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations
CT Curriculum Standard: 4.2.a, 5.4.a (Grade Level Concept 1), 6.2.b


Build a Forest Community

This program discusses the interconnectedness of all life in a forest community. Children will understand this connection firsthand as they literally construct a community of forest creatures. In addition, they will get to meet several forest residents up close to learn how each species is so important to the community they inhabit.
NGSS: (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A; SEP: Developing & Using Models; CC: Systems and System Models; Cause & Effect


Classify THIS!

We’ll discuss how both plants and animals can be placed into groups based on similar characteristics. Students will complete an activity that reinforces the grouping technique and meet a live animal up close.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; System Models; Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: PK.2.a, K.2.a


Connecticut’s Native Wildlife

Using 2-3 live animals and many natural props, this program provides a sampling of the fascinating creatures we have “right outside our windows” in northwest CT.  This program meets curriculum standards for specific grade levels, but also works very well for an audience consisting of the general public or a range of different ages. We’ll discuss the natural history of each animal presented, as well as general biodiversity information for CT’s wildlife. A guessing game using natural props and a question-and-answer period are also included in order to broaden the audience’s understanding and appreciation of our native species.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A; SEP: Constructing Explanations; CC: Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.5, 60.7
CT Curriculum Standards: PK.2, K.2.a, 1.2.a, 3.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.a


Creature Features

What makes a mammal a mammal? Or a reptile a reptile? How about an amphibian an amphibian? Using natural props, animal mounts, and live animals, we’ll break down the characteristics of several major animal groups.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; System Models; Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: PK.2.a, K.2.a


Do the Locomotion

Students will act out how several types of animals, such as snakes, move in unique ways in order to find food and water. They will meet at least one live example up close.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.a, 3.2.a


Endangered Species

Find out what local species are considered threatened or endangered, and what we can do to help them. You’ll even meet one of these animals up close. Also hear some success stories of animals coming back from the brink of extinction due to our conservation efforts.
NGSS: (3)LS4.D; (MS)-LS2.C,D; (HS)-ETS1.B; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information; CC: Cause & Effect; Scale, Proportion, & Quality; Stability & Change
CT Curriculum Standards: 3.4.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.a


Focus on Food Webs

Food webs map out who eats whom in an ecosystem. Using a freshwater ecosystem as an example, we will assign each student to an organism and build an intricate food web out of yarn. Which ones are the producers, consumers, and decomposers? How about the herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores? We’ll also briefly touch on how energy from the sun is transferred to plants and then to animals in the food web. We’ll see how disturbance impacts the interconnectedness of the food web. Lastly, students will get to meet a charismatic live member of the freshwater ecosystem. This program corresponds well with the Pond Prowl program.
NGSS: (5)-PS3.D; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; SEP: Developing & Using Models; CC: Cause & Effect; System & System Models; Energy & Matter; Stability & Change
CT Curriculum Standards: 4.2.a, 6.2.b


Get Into Insects!

Using artistry and actual invertebrate specimens, this program will teach young students what classifies an insect as an insect and why these cool and crawly critters are so important.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; CC: Patterns
CT ELDS: Strand C


Guided Museum Tour

The White Memorial Conservation Center’s Nature Museum provides a glimpse into the natural diversity found throughout White Memorial Foundation’s 4,000-acre wildlife sanctuary. All education programs booked at White Memorial include admission to the Nature Museum for a self-guided tour. However, if you would like a guided tour of the museum, in which our exhibits will be interpreted by a staff person, please sign up for this program. Your group will get to delve further into the museum experience through engaging discussions and activities led by the tour guide.
NGSS: (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS2.C; (3)-LS4.D; (MS)-LS2.A,C; (MS)-LS4.D; (HS)-PS3.D; (HS)-LS2.C; (HS)-LS4.C,D; (HS)-ESS3.A,C; SEP: Using Models; Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity; System Models; Stability & Change


Habitat Chat

We’ll break down the four essential components of a habitat – space, food, water, and shelter – through an interactive presentation using natural props, animal mounts, and at least one live animal.
NGSS: (3)LS4.C,D; SEP: Using Computational Thinking; CC: Stability & Change
CT Curriculum Standards: K.4a (Grade-Level Concept 5), 1.2.a, 4.2.a


It’s Alive!

What makes something a living thing? Why is a rock not a living thing? How would you classify a fossil that was once a living thing, but is no longer? All of these questions will be answered in this program using natural props, artifacts, and at least one live animal.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (1)-LS1.B,D; CC: Patterns
CT Curriculum Standards: PK.2.a, K.2.a


Measuring Our Impact

Human activity clearly has a major impact on the natural environment and its inhabitants. Historically, much of this impact has been negative. After discussing several causes of species endangerment, we’ll take an interactive poll to find out how to make sure our environmental footprint for the future is a positive one. A couple of live animals and several natural props will enhance the program.
NGSS: (3)-ESS2.D; (4)-ESS2.E; (4)-ESS3.A; (5)-LS2.A; (5)-ESS3.C; (MS)-LS2.A,C,D; (MS)-ESS3.A,C,D; (HS)-LS4.C,D; (HS)-ETS1.B; SEP: Defining Problems; Interpreting Data; Designing Solutions; CC: Cause & Effect; Scale, Proportion, & Quantity; Stability & Change
CT Curriculum Standards: 3.4.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.a


Nature’s Not-So-Cuddly

This program teaches children how to be heroes to creatures that often get overlooked or mistreated because of their unhuggable appearance. After meeting at least a live turtle and snake up close, children will learn how to safely help turtles cross the road, how to be good stewards of the environment, and how to advocate for all of “Nature’s Not-So-Cuddly.” This program meets curriculum standards for specific grade levels, but also works very well for an audience consisting of the general public or a range of different ages.
NGSS: (5)-ESS3.C
CT Curriculum Standards: K.2.a, 1.2.a, 3.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.a


Night Hike

During this unique nighttime experience, kids will learn that you don’t need light to discover the night! Using little or no artificial light, we’ll lead you down one of White Memorial’s trails, relying on our other senses to take in the wonders of nature. This program works well for groups that are staying overnight at one of our campgrounds or at The Carriage House. Weekday nights only. Must be scheduled at least 1 month in advance. Cost: $165. Lasts approximately 1½ hours. Maximum of 20 students per hike.
NGSS: (MS)-LS1.D; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Structure & Function


Our Local Ecosystems

White Memorial, as well as many areas in CT, have three main ecosystems: forest, field, and freshwater. After an activity defining “ecosystem,” “biotic,” and “abiotic,” we’ll develop a food chain for these three ecosystems and talk about the flow of energy through them. We’ll also identify the role each inhabitant plays, whether as a producer, consumer, or decomposer. The program concludes with a couple of live animal encounters!
NGSS: (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.B,C,D; SEP: Using Models; CC: Patterns; Energy & Matter
CT Curriculum Standards: 4.2.a, 6.2.a & b


Pond Prowl

Have you ever seen a dragonfly nymph or a water scorpion? Find out what aquatic macroinvertebrates live in a pond during a hands-on catch-and-release discovery session. Various themes, such as metamorphosis, predator-prey relationships, or adaptations, can be explored depending on the group’s needs. No matter what, plan to get your hands dirty! We recommend this program for large groups that need rotation options.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (K)-ESS3.A; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; (HS)-LS2.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; Analyzing & Interpreting Data (HS only); Using Mathematics & Computational Thinking (HS only); CC: Structure & Function; Stability & Change (MS & HS only)
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.a, 3.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.b


Radical Raptors

Just who-who-whoo are those big, beautiful birds of prey you see perched atop fenceposts by day or hear calling outside your window by night? This interactive presentation covers the hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons that call northwest CT home. You’ll even get to meet our two most common raptors, the barred owl and red-tailed hawk, up close and personal! This programs tends to work well for a general public audience, as well as for school groups.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A,D; (2)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A,D; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.5, 60.7


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

This program will show kids how to be accountable for their material usage and, ultimately, be better stewards of the planet. First, we’ll see how nature breaks down and reuses “waste.” Using nature as our inspiration, we’ll then  discuss the 4 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, rot – compost) that we can employ to decrease the amount of trash that ends up in our garbage cans or in the environment.
NGSS: (4)-ESS3.A; (5)-LS2.A; (5)-ESS3.C; (MS)-ESS2.A; (MS)-ESS3.C; (HS)-ESS3.A,C; SEP: Asking Questions; Carrying Out Investigations; Obtaining Information; CC: Energy & Matter; Cause & Effect


Respect our Resources

Humans depend on the Earth’s natural resources. But, with over 7 billion people on Earth, those resources are getting used up fast! Find out how our actions, both good and bad, can impact the global supply of natural resources. We’ll also discuss and see actual examples of renewable resources that are hopefully the wave of the future.
NGSS: (3)LS2.C; (3)-LS4.D; (4)-ESS3.A; (5)-LS2.B; (5)-ESS3.C; (MS)-ESS3.A,C; (HS)-ESS3.A,C; SEP: Designing Solutions; CC: Stability & Change
CT Curriculum Standards: 3.4.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.a


Seeds, Please

Enjoy this program about everything “seeds!” Through the use of lots of sample seeds and engaging hands-on activities, we’ll discuss how seeds develop into plants, the variety of shapes and sizes that seeds are “packaged” in, and how they are dispersed.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A,B; (2)-LS2.A; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; Systems; Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standard: 3.2a


Sense-sational Study

Students will learn more about their own 5 senses as they compare them to the senses of several other animals, including a live snake. This interactive program literally puts your senses to the test.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A,D; (4)-LS1.A,D; (MS)-LS1.D; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C
CT Curriculum Standards: PK.1.a, K.1.a, 3.2.a, 5.2.a


Small Wonders Walk

We tend to overlook the smaller things in nature, but organisms such as fungi, mosses, ferns, and lichens are important components of an ecosystem. During this hike, we’ll take a moment to appreciate each of these small wonders, plus any forms of tiny animal life that may cross our paths.
NGSS: (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Systems, Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.b, 3.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.b


Take a Hike!

Kids just don’t get outside enough anymore! Let one of our staff expose them to the wonders of the outdoors on a guided nature discovery hike. We’ll identify and provide fun facts about several plants and animals, and explain their roles in the ecosystem. We recommend this program for large groups that need rotation options.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (K)-ESS3.A; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS4.C; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; (HS)-LS2.A,C; (HS)-LS4.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Systems; Structure & Function; Stability & Change
CT ELDS: Strands A & C
CT Curriculum Standards: 4.2.a, 6.2.a (This program can easily be customized for all grade levels.)


The Power of Plants

Plants are simply amazing organisms! Using local examples of plant species from different habitats, we will discuss the fascinating process of photosynthesis and the “tricks” plants employ to ensure their survival and growth.
NGSS: (4,5, MS, HS)-LS1.C; (MS)-PS3.D; SEP: Using Models; Engaging in Argument from Evidence; CC: Energy & Matter; Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.b, 3.2.a, 4.2.a, 6.2.b


The Slimy and the Scaled

Reptiles (the scaly) and amphibians (the slimy) are defined by certain characteristics that set them apart from each other. Through up-close encounters with several live animals, students will learn about the characteristics, habitats, life cycles, and adaptations of various species of reptiles and amphibians.
NGSS: (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function
CT Curriculum Standards: K.2.a, 1.3.a, 3.2.a


Trees are a Breeze Hike

Get to know our local trees better, including white pine, hemlock, maple, oak, birch, and a few unique standouts. We’ll learn some simple identification tricks and fun facts during this leisurely hike through the woods.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS2.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS1.C; (MS)-LS1.B; (MS)-LS2.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Scale, Proportion, & Quality; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strands A & C
CT Curriculum Standards: 1.2.b, 2.2.a, 3.2.a, 6.2.b


Way to Grow!

Why do some animal babies look just like their parents while others look like completely different organisms all together? During this program, we will compare and contrast the growth and life cycles of several local animal species, including those that go through the magic of metamorphosis.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.B; (1)-LS3.A,B; (3)-LS1.B; CC: Patterns
CT Curriculum Standards: K.2.a, 1.3.a


Wildlife for the Win!

After reading a short book on some amazing animal feats, we’ll use an interactive system to award medals to certain species that set records in the state of CT. Who is the fastest? Strongest? Slimiest? Several biological props will be presented. Plus, a live snake and salamander will be on hand to accept their honors!
NGSS: (3)-LS4.C; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS4.B; CC: Structure & Function


Wildlife in Winter

What strategies do animals employ to get through harsh winter conditions? Using natural props, animal mounts, and at least one live animal, we’ll discuss how some animals remain active in winter, while others hibernate, migrate, or go into torpor. This program works well for an audience consisting of the general public or a range of different ages.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A,D; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C
CT Curriculum Standard: 3.2.a


Winter Walk

As we hike around nearby Ongley Pond, we’ll focus our attention on aspects of nature you might not see in warmer months, such as birds bouncing around in bare branches and bright natural colors that pop against a snowy, white background. We’ll also discuss how animals that remain active in winter cope with harsher conditions. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear! While the trail may be slightly packed down by past hikers, it is not plowed.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS4.C; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Systems, Structure & Function; Stability & Change