School Programs

ATTENTION TEACHERS, CIVIC GROUPS
AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:

Nixon County Park is the only one of the eleven county parks that is set aside exclusively for environmental education. The Park offers an outstanding environmental education experience for area school students, teachers and administrators.  A wide variety of programs are available for school students as well as civic organizations.  The nature center does not currently provide programs for visiting summer camps, although you may visit the nature center with the guidance of your own staff.  Click here for PDF of summer fun museum scavenger hunt: Scavenger Hunt PDF (You must bring your own copies).

REGISTRATION:School Field Trip

If you are interested in scheduling a field trip or visiting with a group of ten or more on your own, call the Nature Center at (717) 428-1961 and ask to speak with a naturalist.  We strongly recommend groups of 10 or more call in advance to schedule your visit even if you do not require assistance from park staff.  This way we can inform you of any parts of the grounds or nature center that will be closed, special events taking place, if there is an admission fee, or if spaces will already be in use by large groups to help you plan your trip accordingly.

Fall/winter field trip registration (Sept 2021-Feb 2022) opens Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

Spring field trip registration (Trips for Mar-June 2022) opens Wed, Dec 1, 2021Call the nature center on or after this date to register your group between 8:30am-4:30pm.  Please have multiple date options ready.

Please note that Nixon County Park Nature Center is closed on Mondays and staff will not be available to take registrations.

Field trips are free for groups located within York County.  A nominal fee of $2 per student is required for groups located outside of York County.  

Field Trip Policy Update Beginning July 2018: Naturalist-led field trips must have at least 15 students in a 3 grade or fewer grade range. Groups with students outside the grade range need to provide adult supervision for those children separate from the field trip programs.

Click for Teacher Pre-Registration Checklist.

 

Pick Your Naturalist-Led Programs:

On-Site Field Trips for Pre-K-12

The most typical field trip includes one indoor lesson, one outdoor nature walk, and a nature center scavenger hunt or stream study (for 3rd grade and up). Please let park staff know of any themes or vocabulary you would like to focus on during your visit. 

Nature Walk Themes:

- Seasonal Nature Walk - This walk covers the theme of animal habitats and how animals are preparing for winter. 

- Watershed Walk - This walk pairs with the introduction to watersheds lesson, and covers examples of bodies of water and physical divides between watersheds. 

- Geology Walk - Nature walk with "geology lenses" showing us how earth science helps us look into the past and future. 

- Five Senses Walk - Nature walk that emphasizes exploring with our senses. 

 

Indoor Lessons:

- Reptiles & Amphibians - Introduction to the similarities and differences between the reptiles and amphibians, and which are found here in PA. 

- Backyard Birds - How to be observant to observe the unique characteristics of birds. 

- Birds of Prey - Introduction to hawks, eagles, and owls, and how they survive as predators.

- Insects & Their Relatives - Introduction to the traits of insects and their close releatives. 

- Predators Versus Prey - Comparision between the skulls and adaptations of animals that hunt other animals and animals that are often hunted.

- PA Animals - Overview and comparision between the five vertebrate classes of animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish). 

- Introduction to Watersheds - Introduction to a watersheds and the impact we have on our environment. 

- Northwest Animals - A lesson that uses the taxidermy display to discuss habitats and adaptations. 

 

Self-guided Scavenger Hunts: (print your own copies)

Nature Center Scavenger Hunt 1st-3rd Grade

Nature Center Scavenger Hunt 4th Grade and Up

 

Virtual Field Trips for K-12

Schedule a virtual field trip with a park naturalist for your classes. Available lessons are listed below. Lessons can take from 30 minutes to an hour depending on grade level and student participation. Zoom meeting is prefered but other platforms will be accomodated if possible. We can schedule classes individually, but due to high demand, it's even better if you can include multiple classes per "trip". 

Mammals of PA

Explore the adaptations of our most common furry animals, learn how they survive, and what makes them a "mammal". 

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson:

Animal Tracks and Traces Brochure by PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources

Mammal Tracks and Scat Guide by Lynn Levine and Martha Mitchell

Animals in Winter

Which animals hibernate? Which animals migrate? How does our most familiar wildlife survive the winter?  

Intro to Schoolyard Wildlife

What animals and signs of animals can we find around the schoolyard habitat? Learn what common birds, bugs, and mammals you are likely to observe! 

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson: 

Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Activity Sheet by York County Parks

Animal Tracks and Traces Brochure by PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources

Mammal Tracks and Scat Guide by Lynn Levine and Martha Mitchell

Predators Versus Prey

Investigate the traits that make an animal a great predator! Virtually look at animal skulls as we investigate their features. Learn how to tell if an animal is a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore by looking at it's teeth! 

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson: 

Predators and Prey Drawing Worksheet by York County Parks

Reptiles of PA

Explore the different groups of reptiles and the most common ones you can see in York County! What makes these creatures unqiue and interesting? 

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson:

Turtles by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY 2006

Snakes by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY 2012

Frogs by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY 2012

Lizards by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY 2012

Salamanders by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY 2012

Turtle Shells by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY

What is an Amphibian? by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY

What is a Reptile? by Fish and Boat Commission PLAY

Turtle Poster by Fish and Boat Commission

Copperhead Strike Survey Graphic by Susquehannock Wildlife Society

Hellbender Poster by Susquehannock Wildlife Society

Turtle Crossing Poster by Susquehannock Wildlife Society

Full Scientific Article on Copperhead Bites from Acta Herpetologica 2020

Insects of PA

Learn the characteristics of insects, how they survive, and why we need them! 

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson:

Smithsonian Institution - Butterflies in the United States

Cricket Observation Activity by 4H

Pitfall Trap Experiment by 4H

Ant Life Cycle Coloring Page by Arizona State University

Insect Masks by Arizona State University

Monarch Life Cycle Coloring Page by Arizona State University

Invent an Insect Worksheet by California Academy of Science

Label Insect Body Parts Worksheet by California Academy of Science

True Bugs Coloring Page by University of Arizona

Aquatic Insect Coloring Book by Utah State University

 

Mini Field Trips for PreK

Mini Field Trips are available for 4-5 year old students in pre-school, Kindergarten, or first grade students. Available lessons are listed below. Lessons can take from 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on age and student participation.  After the naturalist-led interactive lesson, teachers can lead their own scavenger hunt or walk to the pond. 

Owl Babies (Anytime)

Read the story "Owl Babies" together. Learn about the common owl species found in PA. Listen to their sounds as we investigate the traits of owls with our owl taxidermy. After the lesson, sing some owl songs! 

Turtle at Long Pond (Fall)

 Read about a day in the life of a box turtle and then meet a live turtle. 

'Possum and the Peeper (Spring)

Learn about frog life cycles, frog sounds, and spring animal behaviors. 

Insects (Spring, Summer)

Read about insects in a patch of flowers and discover how insects are important in the environment. 

Fawns (Spring)

Learn about white-tailed deer and forest habitats.