Education the "Natural" Way
The staff of the Milford Nature Center invites teachers and youth group leaders to join us for our engaging selection of hands-on lessons in natural science. We provide opportunities for children to discover and experience the natural world. Through this process, we believe children will begin developing a knowledge and appreciation of nature that will endure throughout their lives.
All programs are planned to take from 30 to 90 minutes, are free of charge, and will use live animals, plants, or other hands-on material.
While nearly all of our standard programs can be enjoyed by all age groups, we have found that some are well-suited to younger or older audiences. The following age recommendations are for your use as a guide when selecting a program.
Need a program devloped?
Is your group studying a topic not covered by the programs on this page? We can develop programs on other topics on request. Call for more information.
How to schedule a program
To schedule a program, please call us at (785) 238-LEAF, Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm or email us. Please call at least two weeks prior to your desired program date. One month or more advanced scheduling may be required for dates in the spring. Many, but not all, of the education programs can be brought to your facility. The best months for outreach are October through March but outreach programs are available throughout the year.
Have Seeds, Will Travel (30 min., fall only, Pre-K to 2nd)
Your class will learn some basics about plants and seeds in this outdoor activity as they test different methods of seed dispersal.
Animal Architects (45 min., any season, max# 30, Pre-K to 3rd)
Your group will discover the amazing variety of animal homes and try to create their own animal home outdoors
Sensory Hike (45 min., spring-fall, max # 25, Pre-K to 2nd)
This activity will tune your students "in" to their senses to help them discover the outdoor world.
Animal Babies (30 min., spring, K to 3rd)
This program combines animal mounts, a video, and live animals to help children understand young animals and how they relate to their parents.
Also available.... Life Cycles
Peepers, Leapers, & Creepers (45 min., any season, 2nd to 4th)
Live animals and various hands-on materials are used to teach children how to classify animals as reptiles or amphibians.
Butterflies & Flowers (45 min., summer-fall, max # 30, 1st to 3rd)
Many plants are pollinated by butterflies. Children will learn about this important interaction as they catch and observe live butterflies.
Also available ... Insects
Fill the Bill (60 min., any season, max # 30, 3rd to 5th)
This program is for the birds! Children will use hands on materials to understand the adaptations birds have to aid in their survival.
Habitat Walk (45 min., spring-fall, max # 30, 3rd to 5th)
Every animal has a habitat. Children will learn what a habitat is and compare the kinds of life in different habitats on our nature trail.
Environmental Forensics (90 min., any season, max # 20, 4th to 6th)
Can your students solve the mysterious "Case of the Lifeless wildlife"? Some ill-doer is wreaking havoc on our nature trail! Your students will follow the clues to solve the mystery.
Also available... "Who Done It" Walk. Solve the mystery of the food chain by gathering puzzle pieces at stations on the trail.
Water We Have Here? (90 min., spring-fall, max. #30, 5th to 7th)
Explore the aquatic life found around the Nature Center by collecting animals and using various methods to compare different aquatic habitats.
Prairie Animals (45 min., any season, 4th to H.S.)
Live animals and various animal artifacts will introduce audiences to some native Kansas and their favorite habitat. This program is also popular with residents of nursing homes, who are often prompted to reminisce about the "good-ol' days".
Kansas Vertebrates (60 min., any season, 6th to H.S.)
Live animals will be used to introduce the concepts of animal classification and adaptation.
Orienteering (60 min., spring/fall, max. #30, 6th to Adults)
After learning a few basic orienteering skills, participants will use a compass to complete an outdoor scavenger hunt on the Nature Center grounds.
Jurassic Rocks (45 min., any season, 5th to Adults)
Audiences will have a chance to get their hands on some Kansas fossils and learn what our state would have been like millions of years ago.
Team Challenge (45 min., any season, max # 25, 6th to Senior Citizens)
Your group will learn teamwork as they try to solve a series of puzzles. Dress in comfortable exercise clothes for this outdoor activity.
The "Unhuggables" (45 min., any season, all ages)
There are some animals that have few admirers, yet help us in ways we don't always recognize. This live animal program will help viewers understand a few of them, and perhaps overcome their fear of some of nature's critters!
Also available ... Bats and/or Spiders
Birds of Prey (45 min., any season, all ages)
Live residents of the Nature Center such as a Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, or maybe even a Turkey Vulture will engage your students as they learn about these fascinating animals first hand.
Also available ... Nightime Diners: Owls . Learn more about the amazing skills of owls in this live animal presentation featuring several common Kansas owl species.
The Snake's Tale (45 min., any season, all ages)
What better way to get to know these often misunderstood creatures then with hands-on experience? Let one of our naturalists introduce your group to several species of common Kansas snakes.
Scavenger Hunt (30 min., any season)
These indoor and/or outdoor scavenger hunts will familiarize students with the Nature Center and Tallgrass Trail.
Kansas Symbols (45 min., any season)
Meet the different "natural" symbols of Kansas. Learn about bison, the meadowlark, the sunflower, the honey bee, the cottonwood tree, the box turtle, and the tiger salamander. This program is great for Kansas Day celebrations.
Milford Fish Hatchery Tour (45 min., best in early April but available all year)
Built in 1985 to the cost of $4.5 million, our fish hatchery strives to remain state-of-the-art as it provides thousands of fish to state waters. Walleye, channel catfish, wipers and others are produced here.
It is very important that you arrive on time. We suggest arriving 10 minutes before the start of your program to unload the students, take restroom breaks as needed, and bring them inside.
There is a picnic shelter and playground area for use by groups at the Nature Center. The shelter houses 10 picnic tables that can easily seat about 8 to the table, more if necessary. The shelter cannot be reserved but is available on a first come, first serve basis. Grilling is not allowed unless prior permission is obtained. Many other picnic area can be found nearby and we will happily give direction to another nearby site.
The playground area has a nature theme and is adjacent to the shelter. Students can jump on the back of a spider, climb through a spider's web, slide throught the "insides" of a snake, or walk on a centipede while visiting the playground. There is also a sandbox and concrete animal structures to climb on.
There is a pop machine located outside the Nature Center. Soda selections are $0.60/ can and water is $1.25 for a 20 oz botttle.
Nature Center Gift Shop
There is a small gift shop at the Nature Center with a variety of nature-related items for sale. You may wish to notify your students in advance if they will be allowed to make purchases.
The Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery are wheelchair-accessible. The walking paths and playground are woodchipped surfaces. Please notify us of any special needs at the time of scheduling.
Self-guided visits enable teachers to take advantage of our site and facilities even when Nature Center staff are not available. Advance notification is appreciated when groups are wishing to take a self-guided tour.