Nature & History Field Trips
The following hikes and programs are offered only at Conservation District sites. Most are usually held at Rock Springs Nature Center/Conservation Area. Programs can be adapted to all grade levels. There is a minimum fee of $20.00 for each tour or program. Chaperones may attend for free, but program leaders will depend on them for student supervision. Chaperones are discouraged from bringing younger children.
See which Illinois State Learning Standards correlate with these field trips in the Educator’s Guide.
Nature Hikes & Field Trips
Sensory & Nature Awareness Hike
A guide will lead your group on a hike emphasizing sensory awareness and the textures, shapes, smells, and sounds of nature. This hike will increase their appreciation of what’s happening in the woods and prairies.
Visit Rock Springs Conservation Area to explore how trees are tapped and sap is processed into yummy syrup.
When: February through March
Changes – Seasons
Plants and animals are preparing for what comes next. We will explore the woods to find clues of their preparation.
Insects of our World
Learn about insects through an indoor presentation. Then, look for them on a hike and see at what makes them special. Catch and release invertebrates with nets and examine them with magnifying glasses.
When: April through November
Seeds – Nature’s Hitchhikers
Take a hike to see what hitches a ride. Look at seeds close-up and aid in seed dispersal.
When: September through mid-October
Hike to a pond to look for turtles, frogs and other critters that live in or around the water.
On this hike we will experience a prairie in all its glory. Learn about “turkey foot and Indian grass,” how the Native Americans and pioneers felt about the prairie and what happened to it.
Mother Nature’s Neighborhood
Ecology and natural communities will be covered during an indoor presentation followed by a hike through the natural communities at Rock Springs Conservation Area.
Big Green Machine
This presentation and hike covers the importance of green plants in the food web and emphasizes wildflowers and leaves in the spring, and seeds and leaves in fall.
Contrast vertebrate animals and invertebrates during an indoor presentation. Then look for vertebrate animals, with an emphasis on mammals, during an outdoor hike.
Ponds and Wetlands
Discover the importance of water habitats through demonstrations and activities. Then hike to a pond or wetland to catch, examine, and release wild critters.
Time: 1-2 hours
Animals in Winter
Uncover animal activity in winter through a presentation and hike to look for tracks and other evidence that not all animals hibernate during winter.
Holidays for the Birds
Learn about birds at the “Window on Wildlife” and make pine cone bird feeders. Participants can hang the cones on trees and shrubs around the nature center or take them back to their schoolyard or home.
Birds of a Feather
Identify a variety of bird species and their skills, do bird activity, and/or use our binoculars on a birding hike.
Field Classes and Outdoor School
Let us work with you to provide a program or field trip tailored to your needs. Contact us at 217-423-7708.
Rotate through life-like 3D targets featuring turkey, deer, bears, and more. Equipment and basic instruction is provided. For ages 10 and up.
Fee: $5 per student
All instruction and equipment, including life jackets and paddles, are provided for groups to paddle the Cattail Pond at Rock Springs Conservation Area. Each canoe can fit up to 2 adults or 2-3 children with an adult.
Fee: $20 per canoe
History Field Trips
A Visit to Homestead Prairie Farm
With an emphasis on change in local environment and lifestyle, you will begin with a short indoor presentation, then take a hike through woods and prairies and experience life on an 1860s living history farm.
Time: 2 hours
When: September through mid-November
Meet the Trobaughs
Tour the 1860s house that the Trobaugh family lived in years ago. Groups with very young participants will hear a story about the Trobaugh children before they visit the home. Limited to 30 participants.
Bethel School Days
Experience what going to school was like around 1900 during your visit to the historic Bethel Schoolhouse, a one-room school at Friends Creek Conservation Area in Argenta, IL.
Holidays on the Prairie
Students will learn about Christmases of the past at the Homestead Prairie Farm and early Christmas traditions in this hands-on program.
When: mid-November through mid-December
Homestead Prairie Farm Tour
Glimpse farm life just outside Decatur in the 1860s as you take a living history tour of this 1860s farmhouse and yard. Offered year-round.