About Programs

Outdoor learning byAlice Van Zoeren

Programs can be done at your site or as field trips. They can be structured as single events or as a weekly series or club. All programs can be adapted for ages from elementary to adult.

Kids looking through binoculars
Orienteering: Map and compass skills. This topic can be presented as an introduction to compasses in a one–hour program, or more fully in any time length up to 5 two-hour sessions. Students of all ages will do hands-on activities, treasure hunts, and games to practice using maps and compasses.
Birds: Natural history and identification. This program is best done in spring when birds are returning to the north and singing to set up territories. Bird biology and natural history are introduced with games and outdoor exploration. Students learn to recognize some common local birds by sight and sound. I can provide a field-guide booklet about common local birds for an additional .50 each if desired (request a sample).
Animal Tracking and Signs: Identification and interpretation of tracks and signs. This program is best done during snowy months. Students will be introduced to the animal tracks commonly found in Northwest Michigan through games and outdoor experiences. For an additional .50 each I can provide individual field guides to local animal tracks (request a sample).
Aquatic Habitats: Inhabitants and ecology of rivers or ponds. Using nets, students collect and examine life in any local creek or pond. They then use information about the organisms they find to determine the health of the water body they are visiting.
Kids using their compasses
Forest Floor: Inhabitants and ecology. Students explore the life of the forest floor by searching for, collecting, and examining the animals that live under logs and in decomposing leaf litter. After learning about their lives and their places in the ecology of the forest, the small creatures will be carefully returned to their homes. This activity can be conducted in any small woodlot near your school.
Piping Plovers: A local endangered species. This is a digital slide program, about the natural history and management of an endangered species. It is more suited to older students and adults.
Custom programs can be designed to fit specific curriculum needs.
A phenology project (the study of the timing of events in nature) for classrooms, groups, and individuals in the Grand Traverse/Sleeping Bear Dunes area. Watch for and record signs of spring aided by a web-based program. Pheno-log is a fun way to improve observation and data recording skills. I am available to assist teachers and others in using Pheno-log through field trip and in-service support.

(Including travel up to 30 miles from Maple City)

.00 for a one-hour program.
Subsequent hours in the same location .00.
Who am I?
Photo of Alice Van Zoeren
I am a free-lance naturalist based in Leelanau County with 30 years experience teaching groups of all ages. I have a degree in natural history education from the University of Michigan. Currently, I work with Northwestern Michigan College Extended Education, the Leelanau Conservancy, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and local schools and clubs.

References available.