School & Youth Programs
Each year close to 5000 area students and youth groups participate in Fernwood’s Environmental Studies (ESP) programs, either on-site at Fernwood or through the in-school Travelling Naturalist program. All programs are based on a science curriculum that incorporates both basic state guidelines and hands-on activities at age-appropriate levels. Most importantly, Fernwood’s naturalist staff strives to make every Fernwood experience fun and positive for each student.
On-site programs at Fernwood run 1½ to 2 hours in length and are tailored to the season. The fee is $3.50 per student; teachers and adults are free (donations accepted).
In-school Travelling Naturalist programs are offered January–March with limited availability during the rest of the school year. Fees start at $50 for one class/program and increase based on the number of programs, with an additional 45 cents per mile above 20 miles round-trip from Fernwood.
For questions about the ESP and to schedule a program, call Head Naturalist Wendy Jones at 269.695.6491.
Registration for the 2016-2017 school year opens on Wednesday August 31st.
For more information on the ESP, please select from the links below:
2016-2017 ESP Brochure
Correlations with State Education Standards
Please note: We are working to update our program correlations to the 2016 Michigan and Indiana Science Standards. Please use this existing document as a basic guideline for our programs until the updated one is available. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please contact Head Naturalist Wendy Jones at the number above.
Tips/Rules for an ESP Fieldtrip
Is your school participating in the Envirothon?
We can work with you to get prepared.
Girl Scout Badge Workshops at Fernwood
Fernwood is an ideal site for Girl Scouts to work on a variety of nature, garden, and science-based badges. Workshops generally run 2-3 hours each and are available on a limited basis on weekends or school half-days. Please contact the Fernwood staff listed below for more information and to schedule a visit.
Nature-based Badges: $5 per Scout. Please contact Head Naturalist Wendy Jones at 269-695-6491 ext. 220.
1. Draw a Bug Poster: following a discussion about insect features, life cycles, types.
2. Try a Bug Craft: make a craft selected by the naturalists.
3. See Bugs in Action: take a nature walk to look for insects.
4. Explore Bug Homes: learn about wasp nests, honeybee hives, spider webs, and more.
5. Take a Bug Field Trip: to cover #3 & #4.
1. Decide Where to Go: before coming to Fernwood, explore our website, talk about where we are located and our features, ask them what they want to see at Fernwood.
2. Hiking Skills: learn how to read Fernwood’s map, safety practices to follow, Leave No Trace ethics.
3. Pick the Right Gear: prep the girls a little before coming about proper clothes, snacks, supplies, etc.—naturalist will go into more details on this at Fernwood.
4. Pack a Snack for Energy: prepare with the girls ahead of time and bring to Fernwood.
5. Go on Your Hike!: do a scavenger hunt while exploring the trails at Fernwood.
1. Look Around: take a senses scavenger hunt on the Fernwood trails and play Kim’s game.
2. Listen to the World: do the Mystery Sounds activity.
3. Put your Nose to Work: do the Mystery Smells activity.
4. Take a Taste Test: look at our taste buds, taste honey and syrup, take the Fruit Loops taste challenge.
5. Touch and Feel: do the Mystery Bags activity.
1. Find Out About Wild Animals: talk about the difference between tame and wild animals, learn what wild animals live at Fernwood, and meet some of our educational animal ambassadors.
2. Investigate an Animal Habitat: learn about the habitat needs of animals and take a nature walk to look for animals in Fernwood’s wet and dry forests, the pond, and the St. Joseph River.
Animal Classification: learn how animals are divided into different groups based on what covers their body, their blood temperature, how they have their babies, and how their babies grow up.
4. Explore Endangered Habitats: learn about what makes a critter an endangered species and discover which endangered species live in Michiana.
1. Prepare for Your Adventure: learn what geocaching is, the different types of caches that can be found, and visit the official geocaching website.
2. Learn to use a GPS Receiver: find the co-ordinates for Fernwood’s Nature Center and the caches that are hidden on the grounds.
3. Make a Trade Item: before coming to Fernwood, prepare some trade items to leave in the caches at Fernwood.
4. Go on a Geocaching Adventure: take a walk at Fernwood to find some geocaches hidden here.
1. Start Planning Your Adventure: learn about the proper gear to take on an outdoor adventure and Leave No Trace ethics.
2. Build Teamwork and Endurance: take one of your three conditioning hikes at Fernwood.
3. Create Your Menu: discuss factors to consider when planning your meals (healthy food choices, gear requirements for cooking, how to pack your food, etc.).
4. Gain Some Trailblazing Know-how: learn about purifying water and tips on using a tent properly.
2. Dig into the Amazing Science of Trees: learn the parts of a tree, how to identify the common trees of Michiana, and create a tree poster.
Self-guided use of Fernwood, regular admission fees apply
Visit Fernwood to take pictures, view any photography Gallery exhibits that might be on display (call or check our website for Gallery schedule), attend a Photography Club meeting (held on the first Sundays of the month, 2:00-3:30pm).
Garden-based Badges: $5 per Scout.
Please contact Head of Horticulture and Grounds Steve Bornell at 269-695-6491 ext. 217.
1. Visit a Garden: enjoy a tour of Fernwood’s Fern Conservatory and the many beautiful outdoor gardens.
2. Explore Garden Design: look at the different gardens at Fernwood and learn about their unique designs.
3. Learn How to Choose Garden Plants: learn about hardiness zones and see the plants that can grow successfully in our area.
1. Uncover the Science of One Flower: talk to a Fernwood horticulturist to learn more about flowers.
2. Look Under the Petals: learn about some different flower families.
5. Send a Message in Flower Code: gather flowers from our gardens and learn how to arrange them in a beautiful display.