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Native Prairie Restoration at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l West Michigan Environmental Education

Plan a Field Trip to the Institute


Research has shown that early experiences in science, especially field-based experiences, are essential for promoting interest in science, developing science-related skills and knowledge, and building a scientifically-literate population. Due to the great diversity of ecosystems present on its property, its classroom and laboratory facilities, and its program options, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is able to offer educators and students a wide variety of field-based learning experiences and opportunities. Plus, thanks to donations made to the ScienceStrong—Explore, Experience, Engage initiative, the Institute also has funds available to offset or reduce the cost of a field trip.


Contact Dr. Sara Parr Syswerda, education director, at (269) 721-4434 with questions about field trip options, including field trip grant opportunities, programs, meals, and housing resources. K-12 School Field Trips l Children Outdoors l Seven Miles of Trails l Diverse Habitats l Native Prairie l Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A West Michigan Nature Center for Environmental Education


Program Registration

Please fill out this program interest form to sign up for a program. Additional time for hiking and/or lunch can be built into program schedules. Custom quotes for longer multi-day or multi-week programs are available from Dr. Sara Parr Syswerda.

Program Constraints

Due to staffing constraints, the Institute can only handle two classes of students at any one time. Many of the programs include outdoor components, and students will go outside during field trips even if the weather is cold, rainy, or snowy. Please ensure your students dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear for being outside. Programs may be cancelled due to thunderstorms, large snow events, or other weather-related emergencies. The programs are designed to be very interactive, and thus we are unable to accommodate younger siblings at programs.


    Preschool and Young Kindergarten Programs

    Pumpkin Life Cycles — 1 hour

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in October

    Standards Covered: K-ESS3-1

    Students will explore the pumpkin life cycle through a short book, acting out the pumpkin life cycle, dissecting pumpkins, and planting a pumpkin patch for inside their classroom.

    Five Senses — 1 hour

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in October and November

    Standards Covered: K-LS1-1

    Students will explore their five senses through hands on activities that will get students up and moving and exploring their environment.

    Hibernation — 1 hour

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in November and December

    Standards Covered: K-LS1-1

    Students will learn about what animals in Michigan do during winter through hands on activities and building a model of an animal hibernating.

    Plant Life Cycles — 1 hour

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in March

    Standards Covered: K-ESS3-1

    Students will make observations about plants and seeds, act out the plan life cycle, and plant their own seed to watch grow.

    Bird Life Cycles — 1 hour

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in April

    Standards Covered: K-ESS3-1, K-2-ETS1-2

    Students will learn about the different birds of Michigan, act out the bird life cycle, and create their own model bird to take home.


    Elementary School Programs

    Kindergarten Forces and Motion — 2 hours

    Available as a field trip or in-school program in January

    Standards Covered: K-PS2-1, K-PS2-2

    Students will explore pushes and pulls through a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Students should be prepared to go outside.


    Third Grade Animal Adaptations  — 2 hours

    Available as a field trip program in February

    Standards Covered: 3-LS4-3, 3-LS4-2

    Students will learn about different animal habitats and life requirements. Students will learn about animal adaptations and the connection between structure and function. Students will design their own organism to fit their environment.


    Fourth Grade Earth Systems — 2 hours

    Available as a field trip program in September – November.

    Standards Covered: 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2

    Students will learn about the impact of glaciers on the landscape of Michigan. Students will go on a hilly two mile hike and then return to the building to participate in hands on activities to demonstrate how ice, water, and wind can change the landscape.