NPS Photo by Mike Landrum
Wind Cave National Park is open all year and teachers can bring students for regularly scheduled cave tours any time. Teachers may request a program that supports a particular classroom objective for any of the cave tours. Suggested pre-visit lesson plans for learning about caves are available on this website. Reservations can be made by calling the park at 605-745-4600. Teachers may also plan "just for fun" field trips to the cave by calling the park. Please visit Group Tour Reservations for more information.
Curriculum Based Environmental Education Programs
Wind Cave has two environmental education programs. Connections is designed for grades K-8 and helps students discover relationships between the mixed-grass prairie, the ponderosa pine forest, the cave, the plants and animals that live in these environments and themselves. Water in the Enviroment is a hydrology program designed for grades 6-12. Either program can be used to reinforce classroom studies and can be adjusted to coincide with particular school subjects. There are no fees to participate in these programs. Click on the following link for a description of the program from a parent/news article from the Chadron News.
In the outdoor classroom of Wind Cave National Park students participate in structured, hands-on learning activities that reveal how ecological principles and natural processes work. The programs encourage critical thinking and cooperative learning experiences. "Connections" introduces specific ecological concepts that increase in complexity with grade levels.
Both programs are offered during late April through the middle of May. Once reservations are made, educators receive an informational packet describing the grade specific concept, curriculum objectives, pre- and post-visit activities, and a vocabulary list.
Caves are a rich source of yet-to-be discovered knowledge of the world around us. The National Park Service has an extensive Cave and Karst Program Education Program which emphasizes stewardship, responsibility, science, cooperation, coordination, and education. For additional, general information about National Park Service Caves, you can visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/views/layouts/main.html#/Caves/welcome/
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.