School Field Trips
Get your students up out of their seats, and take them on an adventure they'll never forget! The Whitehouse Nature Center provides a variety of educational programs for all grade levels focusing on the environment, local plants, animals and history. Each program is between one and two hours in length and includes a hike and activities that reinforce Grade Level Content Expectations as outlined by the Michigan Department of Education.
Programs are available to all groups, schools, scouts and civic organizations. Off-site programming is available to schools and other sites as our schedule allows.
Maximum program class size is 30 students plus chaperones. Larger groups (more than 30) may divide participants into smaller groups to accommodate the class size.
Teacher-led activities are available while your class is not in a scheduled program.
A chaperone/student ratio of 1:8 is recommended.
Have students wear secure name tags for the duration of their visit.
In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the staff may have to change the program format.
If you are running late, please call the Nature Center; your program may have to be shortened.
Fee: The majority of programs are free; a small program fee may apply if crafts are part of a class.
Story and Mission
The Whitehouse Nature Center was dedicated in 1972 with a mission to "stimulate awareness and understanding of our natural environments among school, college, community, and other groups of all ages."
The Interpretive Center was officially dedicated in 1977 and provides an inside extension from the outdoors. The Center houses the Director's office; a classroom; an observation room overlooking feeders and the Kalamazoo River; a large open front porch; restrooms; a small kitchenette; a library of books and magazines; and the Kalamazoo Room, which holds displays and exhibits of local flora and fauna.
Scroll down to view a list of pre-existing programs, or tell us what material you would like to see covered and we will create a personalized program for your group! Call today to schedule your program.
Experience different forest ecosystems, accompanied with educational and hands-on activities. Participants will learn the values and importance of the forest's resources and its interrelationships with wildlife and humans. Identify species of plants native and non-native to Michigan.
Key Topics: decomposer, consumer, producer, food chain, habitat, interrelationships, living vs. nonliving organisms, photosynthesis, competition, tree growth, forest management, invasive/nonnative, tree life cycle
Available year-round (1 – 1½ hours)
Pondering Life - Aquatic Study (river, pond, wetland)
Follow a drop of water through the water cycle. Learn about our dependence on water. Collect, study, and release aquatic organisms (such as dragonflies, beetles, water scorpions, and fish) from a wetland area. Discussions will focus on food chains, species' survival mechanisms, means of locomotion, breathing methods, identification, and pollution.
Key Topics: aquatic, food chain, gills, habitat, vertebrate, invertebrate, metamorphosis, groundwater, aquifer
Available late spring, summer, and early fall (1½ – 2 hours)
S.O.S. Save Our Species
Identify extinct, endangered, and threatened plants, animals, and habitats found in Michigan. Program will center around the causes of decline (pollution, pest/predator control, overuse, habitat loss) and conservation/management practices. Excursions to the Center's Bluebird research area and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Area.
Key Topics: adaptation, species, conservation, endangered, extinct, native, environment, reduce, reuse, recycle
Available year-round (1½ hours)
Wonders of the Night
Explore the darkness and its inhabitants on one of the centers' forested trails. Owls, bats, spider eyes, muskrat, and constellations are a few of the nocturnal wonders one may experience. This is a sensory, educational hike with focus on nocturnal wildlife and their adaptations.
Available spring, summer, fall (1½ hours)
History of the Land
The Whitehouse Nature Center has undergone many physical and environmental changes since its establishment. Look back in time at some of these changes while walking the grounds.
Key Topics: Interurban railroad; farming; drainage; Native American hunting grounds; early settlers; sandstone quarry; Wildlife Habitat Improvement Area – from a gravel pit to a junkyard/landfill to ponds, grasslands, and trees; Nature Center
Available year-round (1-2 hours)
Studies will discuss how these animals are classified into their respective phylum, class, and order. Learn the distinguishing characteristics of each. Observe mounted specimens and skins, bones, and other parts of animals. Handle live animals if available. A field hike and educational games would accompany the study.
Key Topics: adaptation, survival, habitat, identification, conservation, characteristics, migration, hibernation, field markings, metamorphosis, skeleton systems
"It Skinks" - Reptiles and Amphibians
Handle live animals: snakes, toads, and turtles. Take a walk on the marsh boardwalk in search of these critters.
Available spring, summer, fall
Wings and Beaks
View bones, feathers, and mounted specimens for an up-close study. Spend time in the observation room for a look at the common species found in the area.
View bones, furs, tracks, scat, and mounted specimens for an up-close study of Michigan wildlife. Inventory mammals, dissect an owl pellet.
Identify common aquatic and terrestrial species while investigating different habitats. Observe a mealworm colony here in the Nature Center.