Ranger-Guided Trip

Scheduling Your Class for a program this fall and winter.

  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the park is offering only virtual ranger-guided videos with educational worksheets and scheduled, live, ranger-led programs streamed into your classroom through February.

  • Reservations for September 2020 through February 28, 2021 will be accepted starting on Monday, August 31, 2020.

  • These scheduled programs will only be virtual, streamed into classroom programs.

  • Call early and leave a message if you get voice mail. Try to be available for your call back. Call backs will be done in the order in which the messages were received on voice mail.

  • Scheduling for March, April and May will be postponed until later pending Covid and safety updates. Continue to check back or call the scheduling office at (219) 395-1885 for information.

* Groups are encouraged to let the scheduling office know where and when you will be in the park with your group.

To find out more on how you can bring a group to the park on your own, contact the Education Programs Ranger by email at scheduling office or by phone at (219) 395-1885. All ranger-led programs need to be scheduled by phone.

 

Education Opportunities

Habitat Programs for Younger Students

Talk With the Animals
Goal: Become familiar with the wonders of animals of the dunes through the year. Puppet characters tell a story of life in the dunes. If weather permits, students are invited to hike the trail after the show.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age group: Preschool - 3rd grade.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.0 hour.

Discover
Goal: Explore and discover nature's diversity using the senses along a wooded trail.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age group: Preschool - 3rd grade.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.0 hour.

Fall Fanfare
Goal: Experience and learn about the changing of the seasons. Cool weather and shorter days bring beautiful changes. Discover the flurry of activity as plants and animals prepare for winter.
Program availability: October and November.
Age group: 1st - 6th grade.
Location: Kemil Beach or Douglas Center.
Length: 1.5 - 2.0 hours.

Habitat Programs for Older Students

Habitat Hike
Goal: Learn about the importance of biodiversity through a hike into the national park's many habitats. Discover why the Indiana dunes has almost 1,400 species of plants, ranking it among the top five of all national park areas. Explore forest, dunes, wetlands or beaches while studying environmental factors that affect plant survival.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age group: 4th grade and up.
Location: Kemil Beach or the Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.5 - 2.0 hours.

Lake Michigan Alive
Goal: Students are encouraged to help care for the Great Lakes, appreciate the diversity of life within this region's most important natural resource, and learn about some of the issues affecting Lake Michigan. Play a food chain game and discuss the adaptations and consequences of invasive exotics. This program is primarily indoors but does include a 30-minute trip to the lake by your school bus.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age group: 4th grade and up.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.5 hours.

Water World
Goal: Experience and explore the diversity of life within a wetland. Armed with nets and pans, investigate the rich diversity of pond life and learn the importance of conserving our water resources.
Program Availability: April 1- October 31.
Age Group: 4th grade and up.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.0 - 3.0 hours.


Pinhook Bog
Goal: Learn about and appreciate the rare, fragile gift of the glaciers. Hike into the strange and unique world of the bog. Walk on a boardwalk floating on a mat of sphagnum moss and discover insect-eating plants.
Program availability: Mid-April - Mid-November.
Age group: 6th grade and up.
Location: Meet at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Length: 2.0 hours.

Dune Programs for Younger Students

West Beach Walks
Goal:
Explore the dunes and experience the forces of nature that created them. Observe water, wind and waves in action and learn how they work together to form mountains of sand.
Program availability: spring, summer, fall.
Age group: Preschool - 3rd grade.
Location: West Beach.
Length: 1.0 - 1.5 hours.

Dune Programs for Older Students

A Grain of Truth
Goal: Explore the dunes and gain a personal experience of how they came to be. Observe how winds and powerful waves work to create and erode moving sand dunes. Hike the foredunes and beach to learn about the processes of dune building, glaciation, and erosion.
Program availability: Spring-summer-fall.
Age group: 4th grade and up.
Location: West Beach.
Length: 1.5 hours.

Secrets of Succession
Goal:
Experience and appreciate the variety of plant communities found in the dunes. Follow the legacy of early dunes scientist, Henry Chandler Cowles, and hike from the beach over foredunes and through forests. By exploring the environment, discover the forces that shape the dunes and produce this unique succession of plants.
Program availabilty: Spring - summer - fall.
Age group: 5th grade and up.
Location: West Beach.
Length: 1.5 - 2.0 hours.

Winter Programs for Younger Students

Winter Exploration
Goal:
Experience and learn about the beauty and ecology of winter. Explore the beauty of the winter woods during a nature hike after viewing an indoor presentation focusing on animal adaptations. Learn how plants and animals adapt to winter. Snowshoes are provided. If there is insufficient snow, a hike will be led instead.
Program availability: January 1 - February 25.
Age group: 3rd - 6th grades.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 1.5 - 2.0 hours.

Winter Programs for Older Students

Reflections on Snow
Goal: Appreciate and learn about the beauty and ecology of winter. Discover the thrill of cross-country skiing. Indoor activities explore tracking, predation, and winter habitats. Ski equipment provided. If snow is insufficient, a hike will be led instead.
Program availability: January 1 - February 25.
Age group: 5th grade and up.
Location: Paul H. Douglas Center.
Length: 2.5 hours.

Historic Programs for Younger Students

The Chellbergs had a Farm
Goal: Experience and learn about Indiana's early farming traditions. Step back in time and discover farm life in the early 1900s. Play farm games and visit an old-time farm house.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age Group: Preschool - 3rd grade.
Location: Chellberg Farm.
Length: 1.0 hour.

Historic Programs for Older Students
American Indians and Fur Traders
Goal: Experience local history focusing on American Indian lifestyles and the fur trade. Journey back in time to learn about the lifestyles of the American Indians, fur traders, and voyageurs during this period of change in Northwest Indiana.
Program availability: Year-round.
Age group: 3rd grade and up.
Location: Bailly Homestead.
Length: 1.5 - 2.0 hours.

Historic Programs for All Ages
Maple Sugar Time
Goal: Learn and experience the making of this purely American product. Examine maple trees, and see the Native American, pioneer, and sugar shack methods of making maple sugar and syrup. Tour the Chellbergs' 19th-century farmhouse.
Program availability: Early March Only.
Age group: All.
Location: Chellberg Farm.
Length: 1.5 hours.

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Educational Fee Waivers

When scheduling a field trip through the Indiana Dunes National Park, you can select either a Self-Guided or Ranger-Guided visit.

In both cases you must...

  • Coordinate the transportation, supervision, educational, and recreational opportunities.
  • Fee Waiver: Groups visiting the area for genuine educational or scientific purposes during this time may obtain an Academic Fee Waiver if your group meets established criteria. Please note: If your planned educational visit is primarily for recreational purposes, such as swimming, then a fee waiver can not be granted.
 

Monarch Butterfly Program

  • The program lasts 1.5 - 3.0 hours depending on your time.

  • The program takes place at the Paul H. Douglas Center and offers three rotating stations where students will learn about the Monarch Butterfly.

  • The Monarch is a candidate for the endangered species list. Much of its habitat and food sources have been lost.

  • The program will teach the basics of the Monarch migration, its connection to milkweed, and our connections to its wintering ground in Mexico.


If you would like to bring your students to the program, please call the Paul H. Douglas Center scheduling number at 219-395-1885.

Last updated: February 18, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter , IN 46304

Phone:

219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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