Field Trips at Riveredge

A Log’s Life

PK-1st, 1.5-2 hours

Join us on a forest adventure to explore what happens after a tree falls! Students will use their senses to discover the life cycle both outside and underneath a log, uncovering the animals that rely on it for survival. In this hands-on adventure they will also discover how plants and animals interact to benefit each other and their environment, revealing an entire micro-world supported by a single forest log!

Communities & Ecosystems: Adaptations

 4th-5th, Middle School, 3 or 5 hours

Engage in a creative challenge: design and construct your own organism for survival! Students embark on a mission to justify their creation’s adaptability within their ecosystem. We’ll explore Riveredge ecosystems using scientific tools to uncover how plants and animals adapt and thrive within their communities. Using this type of experiential learning allows students to begin their understanding of how humans have adapted and their impact on the environment.

Communities & Ecosystems: Habitat

2nd-3rd, 2.5 hours

Scoop, sweep and roll your way through the diverse ecosystems of Riveredge! Strategically using scientific tools, students will collect, record and analyze abiotic and biotic data to develop a deeper understanding of the interdependence and biodiversity of Riveredge ecosystems. A variety of exploratory and sensory experiences allow students to follow their curiosity and get an up-close experience of two very different ecosystems!

Communities & Ecosystems: Life Cycles

1st-2nd, 2 hours

Explore the forest and pond to discover the life cycles of unique plants and animals! Students will be deeply engaged as they use scientific tools to observe and construct their understanding of different life cycles. These life cycles introduce students to how scientists describe and create order in the communities and ecosystems on earth.

Communities & Ecosystems: Insect Expedition

PK 1.5 hours, K-2 2 hours

Equipped with scientific tools, uncover the myriad of insects inhabiting the Riveredge prairie. Engage in close encounters with these captivating creatures, observing first-hand their intricate behaviors as we unravel their vital contributions to enriching our world. Through immersive exploration, students gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate ecosystems of the prairie and the essential role insects play in them.


Art in Nature – K-5th, 2 hours

Engage students in exploring patterns in nature through hands-on observation of Riveredge habitats and outdoor expeditions! Students will be deeply immersed in the Riveredge ecosystems through inquiry and experiential based activities. Throughout these experiences they will be engaged in art inspired by their outdoor experiences, fostering a deeper connection with the natural world.

Winged Voyagers: Exploring Avian Adaptations

1st-4th, 2.5 hours

Studying birds fosters curiosity and environmental awareness, providing a captivating lens into the sciences and nurturing a deeper connection to the natural world. Through inquiry-based activities, experiential learning with scientific tools, and games amidst the Riveredge ecosystems, students will discover bird adaptations, survival strategies, and their vital role in the environment. The research your students will conduct while at Riveredge will make an impactful contribution to Riveredge’s decades-long bird research projects!

Determining Water Quality

Middle School & High School, 3 or 5 hours

This program provides a comprehensive educational experience that immerses students in the multidisciplinary study of the Milwaukee River ecosystem through scientific inquiry, conducting abiotic and biotic tests, discussing environmental stewardship, and contributing to decades of Riveredge research data. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems and become empowered to be informed citizens and advocates for the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater resources. 

Explore + Restore

5th, Middle School, High School, 3 hours

This program offers a dynamic and immersive educational experience, where students not only learn about the impact people have on ecosystems and environmental stewardship, but actively contribute to the preservation of Riveredge’s biodiversity. By collaborating with educators and conservationists and engaging in meaningful service-learning projects, students develop a profound appreciation for nature and become empowered to advocate for the protection of precious ecosystems.

Exploring Vernal Pond

PK, 1.5 hours or K-1st, 2 hours

Embark on an enchanting journey to explore a vernal pond, alive with diverse aquatic life! Students will hike to reach the pond’s shimmering surface, which reveals a vibrant underwater world. Delving into hands-on exploration from a floating boardwalk, they discover the intricate web of life, gaining insights into the relationships and unique adaptations within this aquatic haven. Due to its ephemeral nature, this pond is only accessible for exploration from mid to late spring.

Fruits of Fall

K-2nd, 2.5 hours

Set out on an immersive journey into the world of seed dispersal strategies and the concept that fruit is a seed container! Listen to a Native American teaching tale about harvest and the vibrant colors of fall, connecting cultural wisdom and ecological understanding. Experience the timeless tradition of apple cider production first hand, as students actively participate in pressing apples using a historic press over a century old, fostering appreciation for heritage crafts and sustainable practices.

Life in Winter

 3rd – 4th, 2.5 hours

Step into a thrilling wintry expedition armed with a treasure map and a series of clues, unraveling the intricate bond between animals and their habitats. Through careful examination of animal tracks and other telltale signs, students hone their skills in observation and inference, piecing together the puzzle of winter survival. As the adventure continues, the mysteries of the snowy landscape are unveiled, leaving students enriched with a deeper understanding of nature’s resilience and adaptation.

Maple Magic

PK, 1.5 hours or K-1st, 2 hours

As temperatures rise and daylight extends, observe the forest’s vibrant transformation marked by the rhythmic flow of sap. Join our educational excursion to the sugarbush, where students will engage in hands-on exploration to discover the process of tapping a sugar maple tree, and more! Delight in the sensory experience and taste the sweet rewards of a seasonal treat derived from Riveredge’s own natural production of our cherished maple trees.

Maple Sugarin’

 2nd – 5th 2.5 hours

As spring’s warmth triggers metabolic activity, witness the forest’s resurgence with the flow of sap coursing through sugar maple trees. Students will journey to the sugarbush where they’ll delve into the process of tapping maple trees, exploring the science behind sap extraction and conversion into a delectable seasonal treat. Students will learn about tree physiology, ecosystem dynamics and the cultural significance of sugaring traditions. At the end of their journey, students will taste the essence of spring’s bounty firsthand.

Pond Interactions

3rd – 5th, 3.5 hours

Delve into the intricate pond ecosystem, where countless interactions shape a delicate balance of life. Engage students in hands-on exploration as they map out diverse habitats and collect data on the creatures inhabiting the pond, fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between aquatic organisms, abiotic factors, and the broader watershed ecosystem. Through this immersive investigation, students gain insights into the dynamic relationships that sustain life within and beyond the pond’s borders.

prairie adaptations

4th-5th, Middle School, 3 hours

Traverse through Riveredge’s vibrant prairies, where every plant and insect has a fascinating story to tell. Discover the incredible world of adaptation as you explore how these organisms thrive in their unique habitats. Equipped with scientific tools, dive into hands-on activities to unravel the mysteries of structural, functional, and behavioral adaptations, igniting your curiosity and passion for science along the way. Get ready for an unforgettable exploration of nature’s secrets!

River investigations

5th, Middle School, High School, 3.5 hours 

Apply the principles of the scientific method to design and execute your very own river study! Creating a hypothesis prior to their arrival, students will then take it to Riveredge, gear up with waders, and wade into the exhilarating waters of the Milwaukee River to test their hypotheses firsthand. Utilize scientific tools to delve deep into the intricate web of interactions between biotic and abiotic components within the river ecosystem.


K-3rd, 2 hours

Prepare for an amazing adventure into the enchanting world of nature! From the tallest trees to the tiniest bugs, discover how every natural thing is special and unique in its own way. Through exciting sensory activities, dive into the vibrant colors, fascinating textures, delightful odors, and enchanting sounds of the natural world, igniting your curiosity and love for science. Smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound will guide our way!

Underground Explorers

2nd – 5th, 2 hours

Embark on an exhilarating journey into the mysterious realm beneath our feet! Join us as we delve into the captivating world of soil and rocks. Uncover the secrets of soil classification and explore its vital role in supporting life and the fascinating array of creatures that inhabit its depths. Get ready to unearth discoveries, ignite your curiosity, and deepen your understanding of ecosystems thriving beneath the surface!

Vernal food web investigations

 3rd – 5th, 3 hours

Prepare to be awestruck by the wonder of a vernal pond, a hidden gem bursting with life and vitality! Step onto our floating boardwalk and collect organisms that thrive in this dynamic ecosystem. Dive deep into the web of interrelationships and uncover the adaptations that ensure survival in this temporary aquatic paradise. Witness firsthand the resilience and biodiversity of the vernal pond!

winter ecology

5th, Middle School, High School, 2.5 hours

Uncover the captivating bond between animals and their habitats in an exploration like no other- in winter! Delve into the intricate dance of life as you unravel the impact of crucial factors like heat loss, shelter, and food availability on these complex ecosystems. Prepare for a journey that will ignite your curiosity and deepen your understanding of the delicate balance between creatures and their environments.

Wisconsin Glacial Landscapes

 5th, Middle School, High School 3 or 5 hours

Gear up for an epic student-led expedition as we journey back in time 10,000 years to witness the awe-inspiring retreat of Wisconsin’s glaciers! Armed with scientific tools like wind meters, soil probes, and thermometers, prepare to uncover the thrilling clues left behind by these ancient giants. Get ready to traverse breathtaking landscapes adorned with magnificent kettle lakes, impressive moraines, mysterious kames, and majestic eskers, in a quest that will ignite your sense of adventure!

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Choices for Every Student, Every School

Field Trips
Virtual Field Trips
Outreach Programs
School Partnerships

How much do programs cost?

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 $7 per student for a 1.5 hour program, $9 per student for an 2-3 hour (half day) program, and $12 per student for 5-hour programs ($75 minimum). One chaperone for each group of 10-12 students is required. Payment must be received at least two weeks prior to the event.

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 severe 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 accommodations 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 accommodations.

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, we’ll email you our handy-dandy “What to Know Before You Go” checklist, which includes suggestions as well as our discipline and chaperone information. You’ll also 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 recommended 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 Jeff Kierzek at [email protected] or 262-416-1101 or call our general office at 262-375-2715


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


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


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


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


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


Welcoming students since 1968, we bring five decades of environmental education leadership to all our programs.

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