School Programs & Teacher Resources

Enhance Your Students' Learning Experience

Connect your students to the natural sciences and DuPage County’s cultural history with forest preserve field trips and classroom programs designed to meet national learning standards, including Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. 

Our highly educated, professional program leaders offer hands-on experiences that spark students’ natural curiosity and initiate a desire to dig deeper into rich age-appropriate content. Many programs are rooted in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and each is tailored to one of six learning levels: pre-K through first grade, grades 2 to 3, grades 4 to 5, grades 6 to 8, high school and college. 

We offer programs throughout the academic year (Sept. 1 through June 1), and most are available Monday through Friday by request at least three weeks in advance. Program reservations for the 2020 – 2021 academic year are now being accepted.

For more information about programs — including reservation requirements and other opportunities  see our Frequently Asked Questions

We also offer teacher professional-development opportunities and resources for use in and away from the classroom.  

 

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School Programs and Teacher Resources

The Forest Preserve District offers a variety of learning opportunities for students and resources for teachers. 

 


Program Areas of Study

ecology-icon-75-01Ecology

Programs explore native habitats, including prairies, woodlands and wetlands and concepts in natural-resource management and restoration

 

history-heritage-icon-75-01Cultural HIstory

Programs explore DuPage County's history, including farming

 

plants-animals-icon-75-01 Plants & Animals

Programs explore the variety of wildlife — including plants and animals — native to DuPage forest preserves, their adaptations, habitats and life-cycle, and the food chain


STEM-icon-75-01STEM

Programs explore components of science, technology, engineering and mathematics

 

 

physical-education-icon-75-01Outdoor Education

Programs explore a variety of recreational activities available in the DuPage forest preserves, including hiking and geocaching

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you offer virtual school programs or visits?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forest Preserve has tailored a limited selection of existing school programs to meet the demand of reaching a virtual audience. In order to learn more about what virtual opportunities are available for your students, please review our school program selection or call our registration specialist at 630-933-7247.

How do I register for a program?

Browse the virtual and forest preserve school programs. Then, complete and submit a program request form. 

How far in advance should I book my school group reservation?

The Forest Preserve District accepts school program registrations for the upcoming academic year beginning July 1. To request a program, please complete and submit an online program request form. All reservations must be requested at least three weeks prior to any program date in the academic year, which is Sept. 1 through June 1. Completed registration forms will be booked on a first come, first served basis. Programs book quickly, so we encourage advance registration. Payment is due two weeks prior to your scheduled program. No refunds are offered for cancellations or changes in headcount made fewer than two weeks  prior to the program date or absent students on the program date.

If you have questions at any time during the registration process, please call the registration specialist at 630-933-7247 for assistance.    

May we eat lunch at a forest preserve?

Yes! We encourage you to have lunch at a forest preserve and to continue the immersive outdoor experience with your students. If you plan to eat lunch onsite and/or require a picnic shelter reservation, please indicate this on your program request form. Our picnic shelters are open-air and outdoors, and we recommend dressing for the weather and packing lunches to accommodate the least amount of waste as possible.

Can I extend our forest preserve experience?

Yes! There are many ways to extend your time here at a DuPage forest preserve.

  • Following your program, you can lead your group on a self-guided hike. We’ll provide you with trail maps, and you can stay as long as you’d like. (You may also schedule a self-guided discovery at several forest preserves year-round to experience different habitats to enhance your students' learning.
  • You can do two programs on a single day. We recommend scheduling a morning program followed by lunch and then taking an afternoon program. Many of our programs can be combined in this way, season permitting.
  • Please ask the registration specialist about additional details and indicate other questions you may have on the program request form.

If you’re interested in extending your time at a forest preserve, our registration specialist will be happy to discuss your options. (Extended programs are dependent on staff and space availability. If you’d like an extended program, please book as early as possible.)

What can I expect on the day of our trip?

DuPage forest preserve programs ask students the big questions and encourage hands-on exploration to find the answers. Anticipate that your students will spend most of their time outside in the elements. We recommend that students dress in layers, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, and bring water bottles.

When you arrive, your bus should park in the designated bus parking area where available or where your guide suggests you park. Staff will meet you at the bus and lead you to your program. If you come in cars, your educator will meet you at the location designated on your confirmation letter. If you arrive significantly before your program begins, we recommend taking your students on a short trail walk.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school programs at a Forest Preserve have been modified to align with the State’s health guidelines. All program participants are expected to wear a cloth face covering. The class size per program has been reduced to a maximum of nine students accompanied by one chaperone. Groups larger than nine students will be accommodated by splitting into smaller group sizes, where resources are available. Social distancing of six feet should be practiced by all program participants. Please mention any accessibility needs or concerns when registering for a program.

What can my chaperones expect?

Your chaperones will be included in your group’s introduction, then will break into groups (one adult chaperone per 9 students, per state health guidelines) for the remainder of the program. We will ask all chaperones to silence or turn off cellular devices during the program. Chaperones are requested to model appropriate behavior — listening to the educator, not pulling students aside for photos/selfies or having side conversations while the educator is teaching — assist the educator with distributing any materials if asked (handing out clipboards or trail sheets), and manage student behavior (by buddying up with an energetic student and helping to ensure the group stays together). Please inform your chaperones of their roles and responsibilities prior to arriving at the program. School program registration and per-student fees are inclusive of chaperones. (Chaperones above the required ratio will be charged the student participation fee.)

What if we need to reschedule or cancel?

Weather cancellation: Programs will run as scheduled to be outdoors during seasonal weather, including rain, snow and cold. Please dress accordingly. If the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning or if your school district or Forest Preserve District designates a snow day, the program will be cancelled. There is no fee for cancelling due to severe weather. We will attempt to reschedule based on availability.

COVID-19-related cancellation: Special circumstances will be taken into account when cancellations are made due to COVID-19 impacts on students and chaperones. The health of you, your students and our program leaders is of utmost importance. In addition, changes in state health guidelines qualifies for a reschedule or refund. There is no fee for cancelling due to COVID-19. We will attempt to reschedule based on availability.

All other cancellations: Payment is due two weeks prior to your scheduled program. No refunds are offered for cancellations or changes in headcount made fewer than two weeks prior to the program date or absent students on the program date. If you need to reschedule, please contact the registration specialist at 630-933-7247 as soon as possible, and we will do our best to accommodate your preferred dates. 

Qualifying refunds will be processed within 30 days of the actual cancellation.  

What if my group is running late?

We will do our best to accommodate your group if you are running late. Please call us at the number listed on your confirmation as soon as you know you’ll be late and prior to arrival to discuss departure and other transportation needs for later in the day. Depending on the Forest Preserve District's schedule and your transportation needs, we will set a new schedule for your visit. Though we will do our best to accommodate your group, a tardy arrival will likely result in a shortened program.

Do you offer financial assistance?

Yes! We want to connect all students in DuPage County to nature, and we offer financial assistance to schools where at least 40% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The per-pupil cost per program is reduced from $10 to $5 and $5 to $2.50. If you qualify, please include this information when you register.

What if I have an accessibility concern?

The Forest Preserve District is committed to making its programs available to all groups. Please mention any accessibility need or concern when you reserve your program.

Do you offer special-needs programs?

The Forest Preserve District offers recreational programs for students with special needs. To inquire about special-needs programs, please indicate your interest on the program request form or call 630-933-7247.

Do you offer programs for homeschools or non-traditional school groups?

The Forest Preserve District's school programs are available to homeschools, Montessori, alternative and non-traditional school groups which meet the minimum program size requirements. Browse the classroom and forest preserve school programs. Then, complete and submit a program request form.

How do I reserve a loan box?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forest Preserve District has suspended the Discovery Loan Box program.

Forest Preserve District and IDNR loan boxes are free and available for a two-week period at Forest Preserve Headquarters, in Wheaton, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, contact exploreloanboxes@dupageforest.org or call our reservation specialist at 630-850-8118.

Reserve a Loan Box

What volunteer opportunities are available to teachers and students?

The Forest Preserve District offers a variety of volunteer opportunities to teachers and students. See our volunteer page.

To inquire about volunteer opportunities, contact Volunteer Services at 630-933-7233 or volunteer@dupageforest.org. 

My question isn't included here. Who should I contact?

For more information or other inquiries, please call our registration specialist at 630-933-7247 for assistance. Our staff will be more than happy to assist and point you in the right direction.