Nature-Based Learning to Foster Environmental Education and Awareness

Clearpool environmental education classes are designed to take full advantage of our diverse landscape. From ponds and streams to forest, wetlands, and hillsides, the Clearpool nature-based learning curriculum is developed to meet the needs of teachers and their students.

Many of our “classes” remain popular with teachers and we are always developing new curricula and adapting our old favorites. Academic programs emphasize an inquiry-based approach with core areas in:

  • Natural History
  • Wildlife
  • Forestry
  • Water Studies

Nature-Based/Environmental Education Courses

Natural History

Discovery Hike – Take a hike at Clearpool, there’s so much to discover! Our knowledgeable facilitators guide a hike on some of our 4+ miles of trails. Get outdoors and get active while you discover the animals, plants and natural history of the Clearpool campus.
Best paired with: any program

Geology – Clearpool rocks! Stone walls and foundations, evidence of glacial activity, minerals and lots of rocks are some of the geological treasures that we will explore. Participants learn the basics of geology including rock and mineral identification, the rock cycle, and how glaciers have affected the shape of our landscape.
Best paired with: Wetland Ecology, Forest Ecology

Wildlife and Farm

Farm (available fall and spring only) – Visit our barn and learn about the role that farm animals play in our society. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the connection between the work of farmers and the products that end up in the grocery store. Then, they can engage in activities such as petting sheep, goats and pigs; looking at eggs laid daily by chickens; and feeding rabbits fresh lettuce from our garden.
Best paired with: Mammals: Adaptations and Identification, pond study

Nature Study – Meet our smaller creatures, such as the ball python and ferrets, in our nature room. We will discuss how animals adapt to their different biomes and habitats. Students can explore questions like, “Why is a tree frog’s skin smooth while a leopard gecko’s bumpy,” while having the chance to feel the skin themselves.
Best paired with: Mammals: Adaptations and Identification, pond study

Mammals: Adaptations and Identification – A hands-on discovery of mammals and the adaptations that help them to survive in the wild are the focus of this program. Participants play games that demonstrate mammal behavior, see and touch real mammal fur and skulls, and even track live mammals around the Clearpool campus.
Best paired with: Predator and Prey, Forest Ecology

Ornithology – Observation skills are highlighted in this outdoor birding program. Participants venture to the varied habitats at Clearpool to find and observe native birds. Birding tools, such as field guides and binoculars, are used to identify birds. Participants also practice identifying birds by markings, call and behavior.
Best paired with: Mammals: Adaptations and Identification, Predator and Prey

Predator and Prey – This active program gathers the entire group for a simple role play of the food web.  Become a bug, frog, snake, or hawk and find your basic needs on campus. The challenge is to survive and not be captured by a predator. This is a great way to culminate your trip and reinforce lessons learned.
Best paired with: Mammals: Adaptation and Identification, Ornithology, Forest Ecology

Focus on Forests

Beginner’s Botany – Participants use the Clearpool Model Forest to hone their classification skills and learn the importance of plants. A number of common native and invasive species will be highlighted, and students will experiment using different identification tools such as dichotomous keys.
Best paired with: Field to Forest: Succession, Forest Ecology

Field to Forest: Succession – Ecosystems are constantly changing.  Participants will learn to read the history of Clearpool’s ecosystems and understand processes of succession by looking at the flora and fauna around the property. This program highlights the ecology of long-term ecosystem change by examining differences in flora and fauna in field and forest ecosystems.
Best paired with: Introduction to Forestry, Beginner’s Botany

Forest Ecology – The Clearpool Model Forest is the perfect outdoor classroom for studying the ecology of the forest. Students will investigate the ecological connections between the forest, wildlife, and humans through observation and exploration of the forest and its many food webs.
Best paired with: Introduction to Forestry, Maple Sugaring, Beginner’s Botany

Introduction to Forestry – Forests are for the trees! Participants will learn the basics of tree identification as well as develop the skills to read the history of the forest. Using data collection and observational skills, participants will learn to understand forest health and development.
Best paired with: Forest Ecology, Field to Forest: Succession, Maple Sugaring

Maple Sugaring – During February and March, the Sugar House is open for participants to experience the complete maple sugaring process. Learn about production from sap to syrup, and the history of sugaring in Native American and early American times.  Participants will identify and tap a sugar maple tree, observe the boiling process, and experience the delicious final product.
Best paired with: Forest Ecology, Introduction to Forestry

Watershed Studies

Pond Study – By observing the pond and the life within it, participants explore relationships between organisms in the pond and beyond. We will get out the pond nets and explore the muck for frogs, insects and other creatures of the deep. The focus is on life stages, the food web and adaptations of pond life.
Best paired with: Wetland Ecology, Boating

Watershed Connections – We all live in a watershed, do you know your watershed address?  After discovering what defines a watershed, participants will use maps and Clearpool’s own topography to delineate watershed boundaries. Special emphasis is placed on the New York City Drinking Water watershed, which connects Clearpool’s watershed with New York City through drinking water. Participants from New York City and beyond will understand where their drinking water comes from and how their behavior can impact the watershed that they live in.
Best paired with: Water Conservation, Stream Study

Water Conservation (Wastewater Treatment Plant) – How can we conserve earth’s most precious resource? Participants learn the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources and point and non-point source pollution. They also gain insight on local and global water issues. The highlight of this program is a tour of Clearpool’s own wastewater treatment facility. Participants view the process from wastewater to unpolluted water and learn about the different methods to treat wastewater to conserve water and prevent water pollution.
Best paired with: Stream Study, Watershed Connections

Wetland Ecology – The Clearpool Model Forest contains a number of wetlands, including a swamp, marsh, bog and vernal pool. Participants will compare and contrast wetland types, and gain first-hand knowledge of the animals and plants that call wetlands their home. Prepare to get muddy while exploring some of these habitats.
Best paired with: Forest Ecology, Ornithology, Geology