School Programs


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 2019-Feb 2020) opens Thursday, August 1, 2019.

Spring field trip registration (Trips for Mar-June 2020) opens Tues, Dec 3, 2019Call 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.  As a York County Park, we are proud to offer area residents a quality educational experience and an entertaining day.

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.


Pre-school Storytimes

A story-reader will read 1-2 seasonal wild animal stories to your students in our Treasury of Wildlife museum. The setting provides life-like dioramas of animals in their habitats which will relate to the stories. Students will also get to interact with the story by participating through hands-on sensory experiences. The storytime is 30-45 minutes and appropriate for 4-5 year old groups of 10 or more students.  Fox Storytime is a free program offering and is led by park volunteers.  Click here for the spring and fall story selections.  Click here for more information.  Click here for a pre-school scavenger hunt. 


We will take a 45 minute nature walk. The walk will be followed by a brief introduction to the Center and approximately 20 minutes to freely explore the exhibits inside.  Storytimes are also appropriate for kindergarten level and can be added to your trip. 

First grade through high school:

Each activity time is approximately 1 hour unless otherwise noted. Groups can select 1-4 programs along with a 30-45 minute lunch for a full day field trip.  All programs are correlated to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. 

Outdoor Programs:

General Nature Walk LessonNature Walk (all ages) - An excellent walk during all seasons. Upon request, the naturalist can concentrate on habitats, predator/prey relationships, wildlife, seasons, and more.

Five Senses Walk
(K-2nd grade) - This walk is designed to teach children how animals use their senses and how people can use their senses to improve observation skills.

Curiosity Hike (3rd grade and up) – This program is designed to allow the students to make their own discoveries and ask questions.  The class will venture off the trails to roll over logs, look under rocks, listen to the sounds around them, and discover what lives in Pennsylvania!

Geology Walk (3rd grade and up) - A one-mile walk (very steep hill) to discuss the geology of the area including stories that share the three different rock types and difference between rocks and minerals.

Botany Walk (3rd grade and up) - A walk to discuss the role of plants in the food chain and ecosystem.

Stream Study (3rd grade and up) - A program that allows students to explore stream habitats.  Includes discussions of stream ecology, insect life cycles, and a hands-on collection of macroinvertebrates.  Students will work in teams to collect macroinvertebrates and use a key to identify macroinvertebrates.  It is required that students bring a change of shoes.

Soil, We Can't Live Without It (3rd grade and up) - Discusses the formation of soils, soil particle size, and the importance of soils. Students will take soil samples to investigate different soil types like a soil scientist. 

Tree Walk (6th grade and up) - A one mile walk (with hills) to focus on identification of trees.

Human Impact Lesson by Canoe (9th grade and up)- Explore Lake Redman by canoe while studying human impacts on the environment and lake ecology.  This program will introduce students to invasive species, bird-watching, chemical water testing, and canoeing.  After a bag lunch, students will discuss environmental issues that relate to their observations during the trip.  This is an all day program, class size limited to 20 individuals total, available Tuesdays - Fridays, May to June and August to September.

Indoor Programs:

Northwest Territory LessonNorthwest Animals (all ages) - Examines habitats and the adaptations for sight, sound, smell, and behavior that help animals survive.

African Safari (all ages) - Using our African savannah diorama students will learn about predator prey relationships, camouflage, and other adaptations for survival.

Arctic Adventure (all ages) - Challenges groups to compare their survival skills with those creatures inhabiting this cold, dry, diverse region of the world.

Animals of Pennsylvania (all ages) - Introduces students to the most well-known animal groups - reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates.  Challenges students to recognize the similarities and differences with hands-on props and live critters. 

Insects in Your World (3rd grade and up) - Using pinned museum specimens, students will review the body parts, life cycles, value, and survival adaptations of our most abundant wildlife.  This program can include exploring time outside (depending on the season) upon request.   

Birds of Prey (3rd grade and up) - Explores the raptors that live in PA, their survival traits, and their similarities and differences. 

Reptiles (3rd grade and up) - Features reptile natural history, behavior and the importance of these animals.

Going Batty! (3rd grade and up) - Promotes bat conservation by dispelling the myths about bats and promoting the fascinating facts about these creatures.

Birds at Your Feeder (3rd grade and up) - A winter program for small groups (20 or less) to learn how to identify birds by being observant and descriptive. Students will learn to use binoculars and practice bird-watching at our bird feeders. 

Scavenger Hunts (all ages) - The purpose of the scavenger hunt booklet is to encourage students to take time to read and/or look closely at the displays in the center. Teachers, please read  "How to Prepare for a Scavenger Hunt".  

Available PDF downloads: 

1st-3rd Grades Full Length Scaveger Hunt

1st-3rd Grades Scavenger Hunt without Treasury of Wildlife Exhibits

4th Grade and Up Scavenger Hunt

4th Grade and Up Scavenger Hunt without Treasury of Wildlife Exhibits

Biodiveristy Scavenger Hunt

Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt Answer Key

Theme Days:

Watershed Day (4th grade and up) - Select up to 4 of the following hour-long programs:

Watershed Introducation LessonIntro to Watersheds- Explore watersheds and sources of pollution with the three-dimensional "Enviroscape" watershed model.  Students become game pieces in the "Really Big Watershed Game" as they travel downstream and learn the natural and human sources of water pollution. 

Watershed Walk- Students take a hike throughout the watershed to identify characteristics of the watershed and the human, plant, and animal actions that affect it.  

Stream Study Biological Sampling- Students collect and examine aquatic organisms to determine water quality.  It is recommended that students bring a change of shoes.

Watershed Journaling- Classroom teachers lead this journaling exercise to help students appreciate and understand natural areas in a watershed. 

My Side of the Mountain Day (4th grade and up) -Students will have to read Jean Craighead George's Newberry Medal winning story "My Side of the Mountain" before their field trip.  Each of the following programs is one hour long. 

My side of the Mountain Review and Journaling- A park naturalist will review the story with students and discuss the importance of Sam's journal.  Students will then go outside to individual spots along the trail to make nature observations in their journal.  Teachers will need to supply paper for the students to journal.

Edible Plants Walk - Students will take a walk to discover edible plants, teas, and seasonings.  They will discuss the foods that Sam found on his mountain and will sample various edible plants in season.  Please let the naturalist know of any students with food allergies when reserving this program.   

Birds of Prey - Sam raises and trains a young peregrine falcon he names Frightful.  Frightful not only catches food for Sam, but becomes a companion as well.  This program will cover the natural history of raptors as well as their physical adaptations and role in nature.