K-12 School Programs

We can create a custom program that meets the needs of your students and your educational goals, or you can choose from one of our standardized programs below. All programs can be adapted for any elementary grade level. Programs are generally around 90 minutes long. Please complete a program request form at least three weeks prior to your preferred date.

Plan your visit with directions to our site, regulations and other helpful information.

Off-site field trips not an option? We can come to you! Most of the programs below can be modified to be offered on school grounds. Please include this in your program request.


$5 per student for a <120 minute program
$7 per student for a >120 minute program
No fee for teachers or adult chaperones


The ELC is committed to being a resource for kids and families of all backgrounds. We offer a 50% discount for any students who receive Free and Reduced Lunch, please indicate on your request if you would like to use this discount. We also have limited funding available to help schools off-set the cost of field trip and/or bus, please contact us to discuss this option.

Need help funding your field trip? Poudre Heritage Alliance’s Learning in Our Watershed™ program provides support to Larimer and Weld County schools when they take educational field trips to the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. Please feel free to email programs@poudreheritage.org for more information.

Several children walk with an instructor through a grassland

Standards-Based Program Options

Icky, Sticky and Small

We’re turning your students into young entomologists! After learning about and practicing the basics of classification, students will use simple scientific tools to collect, observe, and describe arthropods. They will then use their new knowledge to determine which critters are insects and which are not!

For the Love of Trees

Get ready for some tree hugging! Using our senses, we’ll explore the wonderful world of trees. After selecting two different types of trees, students will identify similarities and differences in the way they feel, smell, and look. We’ll then do some more investigating to determine the importance of trees in the environment.

The Nitty Gritty of Soils

Roll up your sleeves and get your shovels out! After identifying three soil investigation test plots, your young scientists will use a variety of tools, including their senses, to analyze the similarities and differences among soil types. They will then use their observations to predict the answers to questions such as which soil type makes the best habitat or which one holds the most moisture.

Wildlife Detectives

Our resident wildlife detective – Mr./Ms. S. Martypants – needs help determining what lives at the ELC. After an introduction to the four ecosystems of the ELC, your detectives-in-training will set up transects to determine what kinds of critters call the ELC home.


After exploring the flora and fauna that call the ELC home, students will examine specific species to determine what behavioral and physical characteristics these creatures have that allow them to thrive here. They will then be tasked with creating their own super ELC critter – now that is adaptastic!

Habitat Detectives

Upon their arrival, your students will be instantaneously transformed into plant and animal species that call the ELC home! Equipped with their detective skills and various measurement devises, they will then embark on a journey to find suitable habitat that includes the necessary living and non-living components for their survival.

Structure Detectives

We’re in need of detectives! Upon arriving at the ELC, student detectives will investigate the structures of plants and animals to help us understand how these organisms function in everyday life. Also, students will use their findings to create their own organisms in an artistic diagram!

The Cycle of Life

In this lesson, students will answer the question “Which has a longer life cycle, a tree or an insect?” by finding evidence and using that evidence to support their ideas. We will hunt around the ELC for evidence of each stage of the life cycle of each organism, making observations along the way about the needs of the organism at each stage. This hands-on lesson asks students to go beyond the obvious to think critically about what is going on in the natural world.

The Rock (and Roll) Cycle

Students will work towards mastering the steps of the rock cycle and learning the three main types of rocks: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. As we hike around the ELC, students will work to classify the rocks we find into the three main types. To wrap up the day, students will choose a rock and write a story about how it came to be there, incorporating the processes and vocabulary from the rock cycle. Should be a rockin’ good time!

Macroinvertebrate Mania

In this lesson students will be exposed to the wonderful world of macroinvertebrates! They will collect macroinvertebrates from the Poudre River, then observe the similarities and differences between the species that they catch. Without any sort of ID guide, the students will be asked to classify the macros based on the characteristics they observe. Students will be asked to write descriptions of each category they create and create a guide that someone could use to place organisms into these categories.

Our Changing Earth

In this lesson, students will define and identify various fluvial processes that shape riparian areas. After a brief introduction to related scientific terms, students will be split into groups to explore the Cache la Poudre River as it flows through the ELC. Students will be given an aerial map of the ELC property to aid their investigation. They will be tasked with finding examples of fluvial occurrences and mapping where they were found. Follow-up discussions will focus on how these processes affect plant life, wildlife, and humans.