The Nature Education Program at ACR connects children and adults with nature, cultivates environmental literacy, and promotes stewardship of the earth through experiential nature education and emphasis on lifelong learning.

Nature Where You Are – Learning Resources for Teachers and Families

During this unprecedented time, nature connection is more important than ever and doesn’t only happen at our preserves—it also takes place at home, in classrooms and online. To support you in fostering nature connections at home, ACR educators have created engaging nature content, wildlife videos, and lesson for all ages, as well as links to some of our favorite science-based nature resources. Explore nature lessons, activities and videos >

School Program

Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along the grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature. - Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

ACR’s School Program puts thousands of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from throughout the Bay Area’s diverse communities directly in contact with nature, allowing them to explore with their senses and imaginations.

The School Program model consists of a visit to an ACR preserve for 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. Long trusted as a leader in the field of intergenerational nature education, ACR’s School Program for children in grades three, four, and five cultivates ecological literacy and promotes stewardship of the earth through hands-on, inquiry-based nature education. Explore the School Program and bring a class >

Junior Naturalist (Juniper) Program

Every year since 1994, ACR has recruited and provided 25 hours of field-based natural history training for a group of 30 budding natural scientists in the fourth and fifth grade. Once trained, these junior naturalists join the 50-member Juniper team to work with ACR volunteers and staff in implementing conservation science and stewardship projects and helping to lead nature walks for members of the public.

Conservation Science Intensive

ACR’s Conservation Science Intensive brings together selected participants for a summer adventure and educational experience on the spectacular and permanently protected lands of Audubon Canyon Ranch in Sonoma and Marin counties. This extraordinary program seeks to inspire young women to develop a stronger connection to nature while learning about and practicing land conservation and stewardship. Over the course of 5 consecutive days, participants develop an understanding of conservation practices and deepen their appreciation of the complexity and interconnectedness of natural systems. Learn more about the Conservation Science Intensive >

Docent and Nature Guide Training

Since 1970, a whopping 260,000 Bay Area third–fifth graders, their teachers and parents have participated in field trips on ACR preserves, led by 1,300 enthusiastic docents! Education program volunteers—and the thousands of hours they collectively donate every year—make the ACR mission come to life. Over the past five decades, ACR has offered extensive training in the natural history of Northern California’s diverse and beautiful ecosystems trained for hundreds of docents who have in turn shared their time and love of nature with generations of schoolchildren. Thousands of other volunteers have oriented visitors, provided expert natural history interpretation, cleared trails, removed invasive plants, become field observers, worked in ACR’s library and completed construction projects. Learn more about our in-depth natural history training and the role of our volunteers.

Photo Credits: 

  • Amy Ray
  • Bob Alwitt
  • Ane Carla Rovetta
  • Jocelyn Knight