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Jr. Naturalist Program for Schools

Our overall goal is to help students develop a sense of place, a kinship and connection with the natural world around them! The Junior Naturalist Program aims to strengthen environmental literacy of k-8 students through place-based experiential learning that utilizes natural and human made spaces within and surrounding their schoolyard and visits to local natural areas. 


The Corvallis Environmental Center can bring nature education to your school site!  Our programs are designed to follow the seasons allowing students to experience what nature has to teach both inside and outdoor activities throughout the school year as the seasons change from fall through winter to spring!

While participating in the seasonal studies of plants, animals, soils and water students will be engaging in extended science activities such as native plant and animal growth and identification, their role in ecosystem functioning, watersheds and water quality, geology/soils and decomposition, and other local ecological processes relevant to the specific location and program.

Classes participate in 6-8 sessions that follow the Next Generation Science Standards for students to understand long term science processes through activities that include investigating, observing, predicting, monitoring, recording, analyzing and reporting of local natural habitats and ecosystems as a whole.


Using nature’s cycles we have designed curriculum based on the topics listed below for students from pre-K to 8th grade.


  • Aquatic insects, habitats, or ecosystems

  • Arthropod Investigation

  • Soil Layers and Types

  • Soil and Decomposition

  • Plant Life Cycles

  • Stream Study

  • Wetland Features

  • Water Quality



  • Birds: Backyard Bird Count & Bird Adaptations

  • Hands on Herpetology

  • Mammals: Classification with skulls, Tracking, Adaptations

  • Watersheds; Stream Table

  • Wildlife Investigation



  • Aquatic Invertebrates

  • Native vs Invasive Plants

  • Native Wildflowers

  • Seeds to Trees or local plants

  • Spring Stream Study

  • Tree Identification

Whether flowing with the seasons or matching your curriculum we aim to meet grade level CORE CURRICULUM and Next Generation Science Standards through our custom programming while giving children the opportunity to explore, create and investigate the natural world around them!




All of the general topics listed below can be tailored to meet your classroom’s specific curriculum needs. We pride ourselves on being able to give teachers and students alike an outside experiential component to their educational content.

Soil and Sediments – With hands on samples of various soil types students can investigate the processes of decomposition, erosion and sedimentation. Soil lessons have applications to invertebrate, fungus and plant life cycle topics.

Arthropods – Through outside investigation and observations we discuss the differences between spiders and beetles, millipedes and rollie pollies! Students learn the different subphyla of arthropods; Insecta, myriapoda, crustacea and arachnida seeing and holding live species.


Plants – Using your school’s natural area or garden we can explore native vs invasive plants, plant types, functions of a flower and more! Games, songs and investigations teach us about photosynthesis, plant life cycles and how to identify different species of trees. Chart native flower shapes and colors or use dichotomous keys to identify common plants.

Water and Wetlands / Streams – Students can interact with our portable steam tables and/or explore the stream or wetland in their own school yard. We become stream scientists as we test water quality, sample and identify aquatic invertebrates, understand the key features of the stream and explore the unique habitat of a riparian area.


Birds – Learn to use binoculars as a scientific tool. Identify and study birds in their local habitats. Explore habitats with bird migration, food chains, nest, beaks, and even egg science.

Mammals – Use animal skulls to identify and classify mammals into key families. Hold and touch pelts of mammals to tell the story of their life history. Explore tracks with science inquiry problem solving challenge then create a mammal track story with stamps


Herpetology – Compare and contrast the anatomy and characteristics of reptiles and amphibians. Students will learn through hands on experience with local species of frogs, newts, and snakes. Understand the use of camouflage in predator and prey.


Wildlife – The animal kingdom within our own backyard is vast! We investigate the adaptations of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians with live animals, pelts, skulls and outside exploration. Any animal group can connect to local food chains and web, habitats, or ecosystem study.


Sustainability – Tackle the big topics of climate change, point and nonpoint source pollution, alternative energy sources and more.





Ashbrook Independent School Jr. Naturalists

  • Grades: PreK – 8th Grade

  • Frequency: 3 Classes per Grade per School Year (Total 30 school visits)

  • Description: In this option each class program is tailored to the teacher’s interests and curricular objectives. Each teacher chooses 3 predetermined topics and chooses the dates that they would like to have their program.

  • Funded: School Funded


Mountain View Naturalist in Residence

  • Grades: Kindergarten – 5th Grade

  • Frequency: 4 of 6 rotations/school year are instructed by Avery House Staff.

  • Description: Session topics are chosen by educational staff and set on alternating years. Classes are delivered to all classes in all grades within 2 consecutive weeks.

  • Funded: PTA Funded


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