Field Trips

 Now accepting reservations for fall field trips.  

Field Trips are designed to engage youth in hands-on learning about the natural world. The programs offer a focus on wetlands, local wildlife and plants, stewardship, and conservation.

  • Fees - $6 per child. No fee for teachers and/or adult chaperones.
  • Field Trips are conducted Tuesday - Friday between the hours of 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. and on a limited basis on Saturdays and weekday evenings.
  • Please carefully review the Field Trip Planning Guide. It contains important information and a list of education programs.
  • Consider scheduling an outreach program. Refer to the guide for a list of programs suitable for the classroom.
  • Fill out the request form below to schedule a visit with your class or group.


Scholarships are available for field trips, outreach, and busing fees. Please indicate in the comment box if you need a scholarship.

Field Trip Programs


Animal Adaptations

This is a general study on adaptations. Students will learn the definition of adaptations and how animals have different adaptations to help them survive in their respective environments.

Animal Signs

Animals leave many signs that they have been in an area including tracks, scat, and food leftovers.  Learn how to tell which animal leaves which sign. Tracking replicas, scat replicas, and a few other objects will show what to look for in the wild.

Bird Beak Adaptations

Bird beaks are adapted to the type of food a bird eats. Students will learn about different kinds of beaks and participate in an activity to show which kind of beaks help birds eat different kinds of food.

Carmen the Carp

Students will follow along as Carmen travels downstream to explore her world. Through this story, students will learn about different water pollutants and how they affect aquatic plants and animals.


Cattails are known for their versatility. Students learn about the importance of cattails in a wetland and about the historical uses of the plant. Students will be able to make toy ducks and/or mats out of cattails.

Edible and Medicinal Plants

Students will learn about edible and medicinal plants found in our local area. They will learn about the historical uses of these plants (medicine, dyes, food, and shelter) and how they are still used today.

GPS Scavenger Hunt

Students will learn about the functions of a GPS and then participate in a scavenger hunt.


Students will learn about insects and the role they play. They will learn about their habitats, food sources, and adaptations. Students will then use nets to catch insects found in Nahant’s prairie.

Mammals of Iowa

Mammals are one of the most popular groups of animals. Students will be introduced to the habitats, food sources, and adaptations of mammals found in Iowa. They will also learn about the history of the fur trade. Students will be able to see and touch some of the skins and skulls of these animals.

Scavenger Hunt

There is always something interesting to find at Nahant Marsh. Students will be given a scavenger hunt based on the season and see how many items they can find. This engaging program covers ecological diversity and habitats.

Migration Bird Obstacle Course

Students will know how birds survive long migrations by learning what migration is, the hazards that affect birds, and how to identify ways to reduce negative impacts on bird populations by navigating through an obstacle course.

Monarch Butterflies

Students will learn about these amazing insects including their lifecycle, adaptations, migration pattern, and importance. In the fall, students may be able to use our nets to help catch and tag these butterflies. Live caterpillars and Monarch butterflies may be used if season allows.

Native American Games

Game playing was called “the little brother of war” by Native Americans because the games taught many skills the youngsters needed to master for their future adult roles. Students will play games that were common to Native American children.

Native American Hunters

Native Americans hunted many types of animals like buffalo, elk, and deer. Learn their hunting techniques and how they used all parts of the animal for shelter, tools, food, art, and more. Specimens of animal parts and furs will be shown. If time allows, the students will practice using an atlatl.

Native Pollinators

Pollinators play a very important role in the habitats in which they are found and in people’s lives. They are responsible for the flowers that grow and the food we eat. Students will learn about pollination and the pollinators found in Iowa and Illinois.

Nature Games

Students will play various games that teach about general nature concepts. Some common games include bat vs. moth and stream jump.

Nature Hike

Students will learn to explore the trails and learn about the importance of wetlands and discover the creatures that live at the marsh.


Students will learn how to use a compass and map to navigate a course around the Nahant Marsh.

Pond Study

Students will catch and identify macroinvertebrates from the Marsh. They will learn how these macroinvertebrates are indicators of water quality and what that means for Nahant Marsh.

Predator vs. Prey

Students will learn what a predator and prey are and how they affect each other. Students will also participate in a game to help them understand the relationship between predator and prey.

Reptiles and Amphibians

How can you tell the difference between a reptile and an amphibian? Students will be introduced to the cold-blooded creatures of Iowa and how they differ. They will learn about their characteristics, habitats, and food sources, and will be able to touch or hold some live reptiles that we house at the education center.

Rotten Log

Students will investigate organisms found in a rotten log. They will learn about decomposition and microhabitats.

Skull Study

Students will examine animal skulls and investigate the structure and function of a variety of skull replicas. Students will learn to identify the part of a skull and make determinations about what animal the skull belongs to based on the number and shape of teeth, skull size, and other features.

Soil Science

Students will learn about the many factors that contribute to the formation of soil. Students will use test soil for pH, nutrients, and light; and use soil sieves to separate out soils by size.

Stream Table

Students will learn about the geological history of Iowa and the history and changes that have been made to the Mississippi River. They will participate in a hands-on activity to show them how streams and levees work.

Team Building

This program includes various activities that promote teamwork, communication, creativity, and leadership.

Trees and Leaves

Students will learn the basics about trees and how to identify leaves. This program will also cover the many benefits of trees.

Twig ID

Twigs from different trees all have variations in buds, leaf scars, shape, and size. Students will learn how to identify a tree solely based on studying the anatomy of a twig. Based on observations, students will have to determine what tree species each twig belongs to.

Water Quality Testing

Students will use water testing kits to sample the water in the Marsh. They will learn what each test is and how it is used to determine the water quality for Nahant Marsh.

Wetland Wonders

Students will learn about the plants, animals, and functions of wetland ecosystems. They will also hear the story of how Nahant Marsh became a protected wetland.

Wilderness Survival

Students will learn important tips and skills to help them survive in the wild.

Winter Birds

Many bird species stay here in winter. Discover which species you can find at your bird feeders, how to attract them, and the sound of their calls. Participants will make a bird feeder to take home.