The ACR School Program - bolstering science and natural-history education in Bay Area schools

Through our school Program, students are given an education-based, nature experience guided by trained docents who facilitate inquiry and investigation. The docents model curiosity, which leads the students to mine their intelligence, senses, and experience as they ask questions and propose answers based on their observations. ACR subsidizes bus transportation costs for schools in under-resourced neighborhoods, which eliminates the primary barrier to school participation and ensures that all students can take part.

As the students hike through a variety of habitats, docents facilitate inquiry-based learning associated with animals and animal signs, plants and botany, Native American history, ecology and adaptations, food webs, watersheds and water cycles, weather and climate, and much more. Appropriate field procedures are introduced to students that encourage curiosity, inquiry, and appreciation of natural systems and habitats.

This field trip made our Environments Curriculum real to the students. It gave them a close look at one of our local biomes (actually several of them, and that was an important lesson). It gave a wonderful outdoor trip to kids, many of whom have never experienced one before. Fourth grade teacher, Novato

Since the beginning of our classroom and field-based education programming fifty years ago, ACR has provided this free program to more than 250,000 Bay Area children. Our School Program consists of the following:

Nature Education Field Trips

ACR’s award winning nature education field trips provide students with a three-hour, docent-led nature hike, a pre-visit, in-class orientation, and a set of standards-based resources for teachers to develop classroom activities related to the nature-hike content. This program is for children in grades three, four, and five, and cultivates ecological literacy and promotes stewardship of the earth through hands-on, inquiry-based nature education. Docent-led, small group instruction allows for very intimate and personal connections to ACR’s preserves.

Special Education Program for Special Day Classes at the Martin Griffin Preserve
We are pleased to announce our 4th year of field trips for special day classes at the Martin Griffin Preserve. Our special day program materials are tailored from ACR’s full-length classroom program and are appropriate for children in special day classes, who are ambulatory with mild to moderate disabilities. As students visit the preserve, docents lead small groups of no more than four students through a variety of habitats, modeling curiosity, which leads the students to mine their intelligence and senses. While our school program focuses on third, fourth and fifth grade students, the special education program for special day classes welcomes students from third - eighth grade classes. Please contact if you have questions regarding your grade level.

Learn more and bring a Class to Martin Griffin Preserve in Marin County

Learn more and bring a class to Bouverie Preserve in Sonoma County

Overnight Program

Established in 2000, our Overnight Program provides students from under-resourced urban schools with a deeper exploration of nature in a one- or two-night overnight experience at an ACR preserve. Along with a nature hike similar to the Nature Education Field Trips, students engage in bird watching, nature journaling, night hikes, science inquiry investigations, and activities that encourage team building and teach ecological concepts.

Photo Credits: 

  • Jocelyn Knight