National Capital Region Parks - Ecology/Nature title graphic

Anacostia Park Great Falls Park Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
Antietam N.B. Greenbelt Park Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm
Catoctin Mountain Park GWMP-Virginia District Prince William Forest Park
C&O Canal NHP Harpers Ferry NHP Rock Creek Park
Fort Washington Park    


Anacostia Park, National Capital Parks-East 1900 Anacostia Drive SE, Washington, DC. 20020 Call (202) 472-3883 or visit our website at

Alien Invaders - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9-12

Don't Get Sedimental - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9-12

Talkin' Trash - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9 - 12

Watershed Watchdogs - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9-12

DC Urban Tree House School Outreach Program - Grades - All - Resource Center - Outreach Projects - Service Projects

Links for DC Urban Tree House:

Antietam National Battlefield, P.O. Box 158, Sharpsburg, MD 21782 Call (301) 432-5124 or visit our website at

Visit Antietam's web page for more information on educational opportunities. Reservations are required for visits by school groups. Call (301) 432-4567.

Flowers and Fords

A ranger will lead the group in a 2 1/2 mile narrated walk on the Snavely Ford nature trail, which runs along the Antietam Creek. The ranger will discuss basic environmental concepts as observed along the trail. This is primarily a science activity. Students will also learn about the military issues connected with the creek. Buses go to stop 9 for this activity. This program is best for small groups. Larger groups are possible if the adults are willing to lead a group and cover materials at the twelve stops. (This trail is not handicapped accessible.) Group size: Up to 30 students. Time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Catoctin Mountain Park, 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788. Call (301) 663-9388 or visit our website at:

Written requests for reservations are required for visits by school groups. Call (301) 663-9388 for information or visit Catoctin's web page for more information on education programs.


Catoctin Critters(1st Grade, Ages 5-7) Theme: Habitats

Many animals call Catoctin Mountain Park their home. Students can discover the variety of habitats available in the forest, and learn where to look for animals. Offered as either an indoor or outdoor program, pre-visit and post-visit materials are available.

Growing Up (2nd Grade, Ages 6-8) Theme: Life Cycles

Not everything grows up the same way. A variety of life cycles are explored to show how plants and animals go through the cycles of life. Offered as either an indoor or outdoor program. Pre-visit and post-visit materials available.

Everybody Eats (3rd Grade, Ages 7-9) Theme: Predator/Prey Relationships

Focusing on familiar forest plants and animals, students examine the ties between predators and their prey. Offered as either an indoor or outdoor program. Pre-visit and post-visit materials available.

Seasonal Signals (4th Grade, Ages 8-10) Theme: Seasonal Changes

Plants and animals adapt in a variety of ways to the different seasons. Learn how they cope with the cold or blossom with the spring. Program focuses on the particular season your group visits. Offered as either an indoor or outdoor program. Pre-visit and post-visit materials available.

Autumn Leaves (Grades 1st-4th, Ages 5-10) Themes: Seasonal Changes Tree Identification Each fall Catoctin displays an artist's pallet of color for all to enjoy. We have a number of different activities for many age levels to help understand why leaves change color, how a tree grows, and tree identification by leaf shapes. Offered as an indoor, outdoor, or combination program.


Deer Discovery (6th Grade, Ages 10-12) Themes: Habitat, Predator/Prey relationships, Carrying Capacity

An interactive computer program providing an overview of white-tailed deer ecology. Habitat, digestion, life cycle, antler growth are all explored. Students 'Design A Forest" by selecting habitat components, deer population, and both predator and competitor species. Management options for deer population management are explored in this real life issue. A report is produced defining student results of their 'forest.'

This loan program is available through the mail at no cost. Deer Discovery is IBM/PC compatible.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21742. Call (301) 739-4200 or visit our website at

Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007. (202) 653-5190

Who Polluted the Potomac? 4th-6th grade, 1 hour, 30 students or less. Students participate in a hands-on activity to examine how trash and pollution impacts their environment. By the end of the program students will learn ways to reduce and prevent water pollution and how personal choices can make a difference. The program can also include a 30 minute walk to investigate the signs of human activity along the waterfront.

Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center,11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac, MD 20854. (301) 767-3714.

Bridging the Watershed Programs

Williamsport Visitor Center, 205 W. Potomac Street, Willamsport, MD 21795. (301) 582-0813

Bridging the Watershed Programs

Cumberland Visitor Center, Western Maryland Station, 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502. (301) 722-8226

Basic Needs Now and Then 3rd grade, 1 hour, Spring Gap, 40 students or less. Students will work in cooperative groups to draw conclusions about how Native Americans met their basic needs through observation of the landscape. Students will participate in various activities that involve the five basic needs and at the end of the activity, will be able to recognize the importance of cooperation among Native Americans.

Time in a Tree 3rd grade, 1 hour, Spring Gap, 40 students or less. Students will explore the field of Science by examining trees along the canal. The students will participate in an activity that shows how trees gain certain nutrients to survive. At the end of the activity, students will be able to draw conclusions about the conditions necessary for healthy tree growth along the river and along the canal.

Oldtown Lock 70 4th grade, 1-2 hours, Oldtown Lock 70, 15-30 students. Students will analyze plants and animals along the towpath and observe how the food chain is involved in this particular ecosystem. Students will also examine water samples from the canal and discuss how differences in conditions around the canal would affect the ecosystem and therefore the food chain.

Sorrel Ridge Geology 5th grade, 1-1 1/2 hours, Paw Paw Tunnel, 15-60 students. Students will tour the Paw Paw Tunnel and identify examples of weathering (ex. The lettering on the tunnel has been worn away, the big pieces of rock that have fallen, plants growing in the rock itself). As students are observing different geological formations at the Paw Paw Tunnel, they will be able to identify an anticline formation and a syncline formation and compare the two.

Fort Washington Park, National Capital Parks-East, 13551 Fort Washington Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744. Call (301) 763-4600 or visit our website at

Watershed Watchdogs Grades 9 - 12 (Bridging the Watershed)

Talkin' Trash Grades 9-12 (Bridging the Watershed)

Alien Invaders Grades 9-12 (Bridging the Watershed)

Don't Get Sedimental Grades 9-12 (Bridging the Watershed)

Snake Talk - Grades 3 - 5

Great Falls Park, 9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22101 or George Washington Memorial Parkway, Great Falls Park, McLean, VA 22101 . Call (703) 285-2965 or visit our website at

To schedule a program, call the park and be prepared to provide information regarding, your choice of dates (please try to give us three dates that you would be interested in having the programs conducted). We will request information about the type of program/subject you are interested in, the number of students, age-range of students, the number of adults, and any special needs or instructions. Please also provide us with your telephone number(s) and the best time to reach you. If you have a fax number and Email address, that will also assist us in contacting you.

Educational programs are generally limited to 25 students per park ranger. Programs for very young children require adult supervision from your organization (generally one adult per ten children). Programs will start and end at the agreed upon time. Programs are free, but groups should schedule with us as far in advance as possible since dates fill quickly, especially in the early fall and late spring.

Clay Pond - Nature's Delicate Balance: This is a 3 hour program for students in grades 5-6. The program strives to build an awareness of the natural world through an understanding of its interconnections. The program's goals are to have students gain a better understanding of the natural environment at Great Falls Park by identifying components of an aquatic ecosystem and learning how they function. Students will also understand the value of preserving natural environments. One adult per seven students is requested.

Exploring Geology - Formation of Great Falls: This is a 3 hour program designed primarily for students in grades 5 - 6. The program can be adapted for grades 7-9, however. The program introduces concepts of the rock cycle, examines different rock types, and explores how the earth is dynamic. Students visit areas in the park where unique rock formations can be observed and discussed.

Exploring Geology: This is a shorter program modeled on the above geology PAC program. Elements (but not the entire contents) of the above program are presented. Time period can vary depending on the needs of the school. The program is suitable for grades 5 thru 9.

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Ugly: Vultures are a year-round inhabitant of the Great Falls area and are often misunderstood. This one hour program allows students to learn interesting facts about these birds and appreciate their place in the eco-system. The program is suitable for grades 3 and up.

A Tree for All Time: Explore human history through the eyes of a tree. Walk through a seldom visited area of forest on this two hour exploration of the value of forests. Wear good, sturdy shoes. The program is suitable for grades 5 and up.

Snakes: Learn to appreciate the important role snakes have in the eco-system. Make friends with our friendly snake, "Checkers," the corn snake. Time can vary. The program is suitable for grades 1 and up.

Animal Habitats: Discover where animals live and why. Learn how man's actions can greatly reduce animals' ability to survive. Visit areas in the park that provide habitats for animals. Time: 1 - 2 hours. The program is suitable for grades 3 - 6.

River Hike: Join a park ranger for a 1 hour hike. Explore the natural history of the Great Falls of the Potomac and search for signs that give us clues to how the falls were formed. The hike takes groups on the River Trail, atop the bedrock terrace, from which many geologic formations can be seen. Expect moderate terrain and uneven surfaces. The program is suitable for grades 5 - 9.

Spring Scavenger Hunt: Get a glimpse into nature that you may not see at other times of the year. Join a ranger to hunt for sings of nature while exploring the River Trail. The program is suitable for ages 5 - 12.

Un-Natural Trail: How much do you really see when you are walking in the park? Test your skills of observation on a hike of a very special trail. Students will learn why camouflage is essential for survival in the natural world. This is a one-hour program for ages 6 - 12.

Bridging the Watershed Programs: Great Falls Park participates in this program in conjunction with the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

Greenbelt Park, National Capital Parks-East, 6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770. Call (301) 344-3944 or visit our website at

Animal Programs

Black Bears: Yogi, Boo-Boo and You - Grades - All

Beavers - Grades - All

Creepy Crawlers - Grades 2 - 6

Does Bambi Live Here? - Grades 2 - 6

Life of a Fox - Grades 3-Adult

What You Should Know About Squirrels - Grades - All

Nature/Ecology Programs

Azalea Trail Walk - Grades - All

How Big is Your Tree - Grades - All

How Trash Affects the Environment - Grades - All

Learning About the Environment thru Sharing - Grades 3-Adult (Children's Summer Reading Program)

Natures Garbage Removal - Grades - 4-Adult

Seasonal Change - Grades - All

The Earth and It's Environment - Grades 3-Adult (Children's Summer Reading Program)

Where Water Goes - Grades 2 - 8

Your Watershed Begins Here - Grades 2 - 8

George Washington Memorial Parkway - Virginia District, c/o VA District, Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA 22101. Call (703) 289-2552 or (703) 289-2500 for information or visit our website at:

In addition to the programs listed below, teachers may request field trips or in-class programs tailored to cover specific subject needs. Field trip locations could include Turkey Run Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Netherlands Carillon, Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Park, Fort Hunt, etc.

Wings Over the Woodlands and Wetlands Parks as Classrooms Program suitable for grades 4-5. Theme: Birds use different tools to survive in their varied habitats. By the end of a visit to Theodore Roosevelt Island, in combination with participation in pre- and post-visit activities, students should be able to:

Dyke Marsh: Stability Through Diversity Parks As Classrooms Program Location: Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Alexandria, VA. Suitable for grades 6-8. Theme: Diversity in an ecosystem is critical to the health of the environment. By the end of a visit to Dyke Marsh, in combination with participation in pre- and post-visit activities, students should be able to:

High School Programs Bridging the Watershed (BTW) Parks as Labs. The BTW program is a unique partnership among the National Park Service, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, schools in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and nonprofit organizations. BTW is now sustained with support from the National Park Service, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and grants such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The program consists of the following five possible modules, all of which may be done at George Washington Memorial Parkway.

BTW/Water Canaries: Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates Curriculum-Based Education Program - Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA Students explore local macroinvertebrates currently in the Potomac watershed and use this information as an indicator of water quality.

BTW/Watershed Watchdogs: Assessing Water Quality - Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, D.C. Students explore nine water quality parameters and then determine the "Water Quality Index" of the waterway.

BTW/Alien Invaders: Assessing Invasive Exotic Species - Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Alexandria, VA; Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, D.C. Students explore a distinct ecosystem in a nearby national park to discover the extent of non-native plant invasions that threaten biodiversity.

BTW/Don't Get Sedimental: Runoff and Sediment in the River - Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA Students explore surface runoff, streams, and sediment load in the watershed.

BTW/Talkin' Trash: Make a Litter Difference in Your Watershed - Various park sites available. Students explore the topic of human leavings (trash), disposal of trash, and personal patterns of living that create trash.

To obtain BTW programs, a teacher must attend a summer institute, generally 2 weeks in length. For more information, please contact the BTW Program Office at 301-292-8757 or check the webpage at

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, P.O. Box 65, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Call (304) 535-6283 or visit our website at

All reservations must be made a minimum of 3 weeks prior to your visit. Openings are filled very quickly, so make your reservations early. Visit the Harpers Ferry Online Educator's Guide at

Marsh Walk 2nd-12th grade. 60 minutes. Maximum number 25. This program explores an often misunderstood natural resource - the wetland. Students walk along a wetland habitat as they learn about the animals that rely on wetlands as their home, the components that make up a wetland, and the importance of wetlands.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, National Capital Parks-East, Located at 1550 Anacostia Avenue N.E., Washington, DC 20019. Call (202) 426-6905 or visit our website at

Solar Energy - Grades 4 - 12

Reptiles and Amphibians - Grades 5 - 12

Wetland Ecology - Grades 5 - 12

Stream Ecology - Grades 4 - 9

It's Alive - Grades K - 1

Seeds and Growing - Grades K - 3

Water for Life - Grades 5 - 12

Pond Ecology - Grade K - 4

Environmental Justice - Grades 5 - 12

Urban Environmental Issues - Grade 9 - 12

Talkin' Trash - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9 - 12

Watershed Watchdogs - Bridging the Watershed - Grades 9 - 12

Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm, National Capital Parks-East, 6411 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, MD 20745. Call (301) 839-1176 or visit our website at

Whose Home? - Grades K - 3

Garden Morning - Grades K -3

Predicting Weather - Grades K - 6

Talking Turkeys - Grades K-6

Prince William Forest Park, 18100 Park Headquarters, Triangle, VA 22172. Call (703) 221-7181 or visit our website at

World of the Beaver

Animals on the Trail

It's Not Easy Being Green (frogs and amphibians)

Field, Forest, and Stream

To schedule a program, call the Prince William Forest Park visitor center, (703) 221-7181, any day between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. Please note that the offerings listed on our expanded webpage are modules that would compose components of a more complete program. It is a pick-list of potential programs that either you or a park ranger could present to your students. To find out more, call the Interpretation and Visitor Services team at the park at the number and during the times listed above.

Rock Creek Park, 3545 Willamsburg Lane, Washington, DC 20008. Call the Nature Center at (202) 426-6829 or visit our website at

To schedule a program, call the Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium (202) 895-6070, Wednesday through Friday. Please note: Nature Programs, except the Puppet Show, are limited to 30 students per Park Ranger and Planetarium Programs are limited to 75 students per show. Programs are free, but must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.The Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium is located at 5200 Glover Rood NW, Washington, DC 20015, near the intersection of Military Road and Glover Road.

Visit our website for complete information on our education programs at

Pre-K Seasonal Puppet Show(1 hr) Puppet characters come alive to tell a story of seasonal life in the forest. After the show, hike a trail to search for their friends.

Pre-K Nature Tales (1 hr) A story in combination with a hike, live animals, or other activities introduce young students to a variety of topics. Choose from Animal Babies, Camouflage, Slithering Snakes, Oh Deer, or Turtle Mania.

Curriculum based programs for grades 1-12 will extend your lessons into our outdoor classroom. Appropriate grade levels are noted in front of program titles.

1-2 Sensory Stroll (1 hr) Observe nature in a whole new way! Discover how animals use their senses to survive.

1-3 Meet A Tree (1 hr) Meet a new friend.., a tree! Learn how trees are similar to people and find out why they are so important.

1-3 Flower Power (1 hr) Spring Only. Learn about pollination and the important role butterflies and bees play in making new flowers.

1-3 Magical Seeds (1 hr) Fall Only. Discover the uniqueness of plants and their life cycle. Watch how a mighty plant grows from a tiny seed!

2-3 Habitat Hunt (1 hr) Explore a section of Rock Creek Park's 1750 acres of habitat and find out why it is so important to the animals of Washington DC

2-3 Be a Junior Naturalist! (1 hr) Learn about the skills and tools naturalists use while observing nature.

2-4 Adaptations (1 hr) Win, loose, or adapt! Discover how animals must adapt to thrive in their environment.

4-6 Aquatic Ecology (1 1/2 hrs) Journey through the water cycle and learn the importance of conserving and protecting our water resources.

6 Layers of the Forest (1 1/2 hrs) Explore the forest community from the ground up. Learn why forests take years to build and only a moment to destroy.

4-6 Protecting our Park (2 hrs) Help a Park Ranger protect Rock Creek Park by completing a service learning project such as a watershed cleanup or an invasive plant removal.

7-12 Forest Ecosystems (2 hrs) Apply chemistry and mathematics as a tool to learn more about the health of Rock Creek Park's forest. Also participate in a service learning project by helping to remove exotic invasive plants. These additional programs can be tailored to all ages and/or grade levels.

7-12 Water Quality (2 hrs) Investigate the quality of water in Rock Creek using a combination of bioassessment and chemical tests. Also participate in a service learning project by helping to cleanup the river.

9-12 Bridging the Watershed (4 hrs) Choose one of five performance based science modules focused on the Potomac River Watershed:

  1. Don't Get Sedimental: Runoff and Sediment in the River Students explore surface runoff and learn about the connections between land disturbance and sediment load in the watershed.
  2. Alien Invaders: Assessing Invasive Exotic Species Students observe a distinct ecosystem in a nearby national park and assess the extent of non-native plant invasions that threaten biodiversity.
  3. Water Canaries: Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates Students determine water quality by assessing the population of aquatic macroinvertebrates in a nearby National Park.
  4. Talkin' Trash: Make a Litter Difference in Your Watershed Students explore human leavings, trash disposal, and lifestyle choices that create or reduce trash output.
  5. Watershed Watchdogs: Assessing Water Quality Students assess water quality by examining nine parameters to determine a "Water Quality Index" of a park waterway.

The programs listed below can be tailored to all ages and/or grade levels.

Animal Viewing (1/2 hr) Observe our live animals at the Nature Center. Learn how they live, touch their skins and shells, and find out what they eat!

Seasons in the Park (1 hr) Discover the beauty of Rock Creek Park in any season. Hike the nearby forest and look for seasonal changes.

Wildlife Kits Three urban wildlife kits (deer, turtle, owl), designed for pre-K through grade 3, are available for loan from the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. Each kit contains a teacher's guide, materials, books, and objects for hands-on lessons focusing on adaptions and habitats. Contact the nature center to reserve one.

The Nature Center's planetarium provides visitors with the opportunity to view the motion of the stars, constellations, moon, and planets in tonight's night sky. As the only planetarium in the National Park Service, it enables visitors to compare the night sky with urban light pollution to the ideal viewing conditions of the country.

Pre-K The Sky Above Us (30 mm) This program will introduce young learners to tonight's night sky by enabling them to observe the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. Stories about the constellations will peak their imagination and their desire to learn more.

1-3 Wonders of the Night Sky (45 mm) Journey from the city to the countryside without ever leaving your seat. Students will learn about stars, identify some constellations and hear their stories.

4-6 Our Universe (1 hr) The conceptual science of astronomy is made tangible through the combination of active demonstrations and a planetarium program focusing on our universe.

If you would like to schedule a planetarium program for older students, please call the Nature Center and we will tailor a program specifically for your group.