School Programs

400 acres and more than four miles of trails for your students to explore and immerse themselves in tangible, real-world science experiences

Are you searching for an engaging, experiential, outdoor learning experience for your students?   Our education staff has more than four decades of environmental education experience; we are excited and ready to get your students outside, asking questions, thinking critically about issues and solutions, and connecting with nature! 

Depending on the grade level, field experiences vary in length from 2 hours to most of a school day.  All field experiences are held primarily outdoors to get your students outside of the four walls of a building and engaging with the natural world around them.  Students ask questions, make observations, use tools, collect data, and always go home a little messier than they arrived!  Field trips are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards, and Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards. 

Our two picnic areas are available for use at no additional cost for students, teachers, and chaperones to enjoy their lunches during or after the field trip.

Interested in adding an activity or two to one of the field trips listed below, or designing your own field experience?  Visit the “Build Your Own Program” page for a list of a la carte activity options.       

Contact Mary Helen Gillen, Education Manager, at or 410-822-4903 for more details on scheduling, pricing, and program content.

1st - 2nd Grade

Water and Wetlands
Experience the basic properties of water while learning about the water cycle and characteristics of wetlands!  During this field experience, we’ll take a nature walk through a wetland, investigate a farm pond for living creatures, and play games that illustrate the role of wetlands as habitat for wildlife.  Students will leave with an understanding of what a wetland does, and why humans should care about the role of wetlands in our landscapes. NGSS DCIs: LS1.A, LS1.B, LS1.C, ESS3.A
2 hours

Seeds, Soils, and Pollinators
Let’s get our hands a little dirty!  During this field experience at Pickering Creek, students will compare and contrast a variety of seeds, and learn about the parts of seeds and their dispersal methods during a seed dissection.  While hiking through different habitats, we’ll investigate soil types and the variety of plants (and seeds!) that can grow in each type of soil.  We’ll further explore the science of plants by learning about the pollinator-flower relationship in a series of hands-on, senses-oriented games. NGSS DCIs: LS2.A, LS4.D, PS1.A, ESS2. A
2 hours

3rd - 5th Grade

Forest Detectives
Explore and study a forest by examining various trees, investigating tracks and traces left behind by woodland creatures, and inspecting life found under and inside rotten logs!  During this explorative day in the woods, students will use scientific tools such as field guides, hand lenses, and insect boxes to explore all parts of the forest and learn how decomposers complete the life cycle of a tree by turning it into forest soil.  Students will learn why forests are important for both wildlife and people in the Chesapeake Bay area. NGSS DCIs: LS1.B, LS3.B, LS4.C
2 hours

Ecosystem Investigation
Ponds, forests, wetlands, oh my!  During an engaging morning or afternoon at Pickering Creek, student scientists investigate wetland, pond, and forest ecosystems by using scientific tools, asking questions, and comparing and contrasting the interactions between the living and non-living components of ecosystems.  Through games, a ponding activity, and hikes, students will survey local habitats and collect scientific data in each ecosystem that can be used back in the classroom.  Each ecosystem will be connected to the greater Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.  NGSS DCIs: LS1.A, LS1.C, LS2.A, LS2.B
2 hours

6th – 8th Grade

Investigating Bird-Friendly Habitats
Students take on the role of ornithologists during this hands-on, real world exploration of how scientists monitor and survey bird and wildlife habitats, including large-scale restored habitats.  Using binoculars, field guides, nets, and rubber boots, we’ll venture into a restored freshwater wetland, skim below the surface of a pond, creep through meadows with butterfly nets at the ready, and scour the forest floor and canopy for signs of wildlife.  In each habitat we investigate students will evaluate the components that are “bird-friendly” for resident and migratory birds, and determine how each habitat could be improved for wildlife. NGSS DCIs: LS1.B, LS2.A, LS2.C, LS4.C, ESS3.C
3 hours
* This field experience can be expanded to a full Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE).  See the “MWEE and Multi-Day Program Guide” for more information about the full Audubon Conservation Team 4 Birds (ACT 4 Birds) program.

Biodiversity Makes the Bay Better
Let’s get outside and explore!  This exciting, student-driven exploration allows students to examine and appreciate the wide diversity of plant and animal life that inhabits the Chesapeake Bay region.  Using scientific tools and equipment such as seine nets, dip nets, chest waders, dichotomous keys, insect boxes, field guides, and binoculars, students survey the species richness and relative abundance in the forest and creek.  Seining and fishing in the creek, collecting bird data on a hike through the forest, and searching for life big and small during a forest bio blitz gives students an immersive, tangible outdoor science experience.  NGSS DCIs: LS1.B, LS2.A, LS2.C, LS4.C, LS4.D, ETS1.B
3 hours

9th – 12th Grade

Audubon Watershed Experience
This full-day field experiences combines recreational activities, such as fishing and birding, with experiential, real-world science.  Students explore wetland ecology, forested creek buffers, and the waters within Pickering Creek while investigating human impacts and the connections between land use, water quality, and habitat health.  Throughout the day students will consider how scientists measure biodiversity and habitat health, and go beyond merely looking at environmental issues and problems to determine solutions and best management practices implemented at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, such as habitat restoration, cover crops, and riparian buffers.   NGSS DCIs: LS2.C, LS4.D, ESS2.C, ESS3.A, ESS3.C, ETS1.A, ETS1.B
4.5-5 hours
*This field experience can be expanded to a full Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE).  See the “MWEE and Multi-Day Program Guide” for more information about the full Audubon Watershed Experience.

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