K–12 Programs

K-12 school programs at Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center are designed to get students outside, introduce them to the wonders of nature, allow them to explore the outdoors and to participate in an active learning environment. Starting from early elementary and on through high school, students will advance in their awareness and understanding of the natural world and in their scientific processing skills. Each program is designed to help meet a variety of standards that are dependent on the grade level and subject area. The goal of these programs is to inspire the exploration, appreciation and conservation of our natural world.

Field of cat tails in the winter

Expand Your Students' Horizons.

Request A Date

Email our site coordinator Jenna Gatzke, to set up your class visit to the Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center and Green Field Station! We can't wait to host you.

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Students participating in a school program at Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center

Programming Options

Each of our unique programs programs inspire the exploration, appreciation and conservation of our natural world.

All Grade Levels (K–12)

Aerial of Greene Field Station

These all-grade-level program options can widely vary in length depending on the teacher’s needs.

Teacher's Choice
This program option allows teachers to create their own program. You can choose to mix and match some of our existing program offerings, add in special activities for the current season, or work with us to create something completely unique.

Stewardship of the Land
It is our responsibility to help take care of the land around us. Students will have the opportunity to engage in a seasonal stewardship activity while also learning more about science and human-environment interactions.

Kindergarten–1st Grade

Our kindergarten and first grade programs are each two hours in length.

Nuts About Nature
This program is a sensory exploration that provides students with a positive experience in nature. They will learn a greater appreciation for both living and non-living parts of the world we live in. Emphasis will also be placed on survival needs, adaptations, food chains, and how people are part of nature too and can help maintain healthy habitats.

Water Wonders
In this introductory program on water and watersheds, students will learn about freshwater scarcity and how we can help preserve it. They also will explore the animals and plants that call Genesee Creek home.

2nd–3rd Grades

Participants in the Cycles of Nature program

Our second and third grade programs are each three hours in length.

Animals Among Us
Identify and compare structures in animals, relate characteristics and functions of observable body parts to the ability of animals to live in their environment, and have fun while doing it! Students in this program will get outside and learn all about what makes the wild animals around Prairie Springs unique.

Cycles in Nature
Examine the importance of five of the main cycles in nature and how they interact with one another. This program emphasizes water, gas, nutrient, animal life and plant life cycles on the Prairie Springs grounds.

Watershed Explorations
Students will further develop their understanding of water and watersheds as they make connections to the water cycle. They then will step in feet first to Genesee Creek to explore the organisms that live within our own watershed.

4th–5th Grades

Our fourth and fifth grade programs are all designed as full-day experiences. Half-day options are available upon request.

Ecosystem Discovery
Students will spend the day on the trails making observations, asking questions, collecting data and drawing conclusions while they explore the ecosystems of Prairie Springs. Throughout the day, students will take part in a variety of activities to help understand what makes each system unique and how humans can both positively and negatively affect those systems.

Wetlands and Water
Throughout this program students will experience a more in-depth look at the importance of freshwater. Together, we will explore the many beneficial functions of the disappearing wetlands in our watershed and how scientists determine the health of a creek such as Genesee.

6th–8th Grades

Participants in the Ecosystem Investigations program

Our sixth to eighth grade programs are all designed as full-day experiences. Half-day options are available upon request.

Ecosystem Investigations
Students will explore the trails of Prairie Springs as they work towards further understanding the living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) pieces of an ecosystem. Students will take part in a scientific investigation to learn how energy flows within and across the differing ecosystems they encounter.

Water Quality I
By gathering and analyzing data on the biological, chemical and physical properties of Genesee Creek, students will gauge the water quality of Genesee Creek. They also will explore connections between the water cycle and our watershed.

9th–12th Grades

Our ninth through 12th grade programs are all designed as full-day experiences. Half-day options are available upon request.

Water Quality II
By gathering and analyzing data on the biological, chemical, and physical properties of Genesee Creek students will gauge the water quality of Genesee Creek. This program expands on the 6-8 grade program by including more data advanced collection, focus on precision in collection and analysis and highlighting claim, evidence and reasoning techniques in scientific thinking.

Ecology Studies
Students will spend the day learning about how energy flows through the plants, animals and ecosystems of Prairie Springs as they think about connections to human interactions. Using the resources on site, students will design their own observational study in small groups, collect and analyze their data and form a scientific explanation to help better understand the existing relationships between all living things and their surrounding environment.

Integrating Environmental Literacy and Sustainability into Your Curriculum

A comprehensive K-12 environmental education curriculum has been developed collaboratively between Carroll University, Waukesha County, and Waukesha School District. The curriculum is designed to fully integrate Environmental Literacy and Sustainability standards and NGSS Science and Literary standards. To learn more, please visit https://www.waukeshacounty.gov/envedu/schools/curriculum.

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Panoramic View of campus