Education in the park
Learning Loops are designed with the teacher in mind. Currently there are 30 stations (10 in each Loop). Ten more will be placed along another loop next year. Each station gives information and photos of a particular topic of the park’s history, geology, plants and animals. Teachers are welcome to bring their classes for a self-guided walking tour (all other activities require permits and park staff – call office for details) of the Learning Loops at no charge; however, we do require that you register your visit with the park office to avoid scheduling conflicts with other paid field trip groups – call 277-2004.
Learning stations generously funded by 3M, Michelin, Duke Energy and the Jolley Foundation.
“The program was perfect. It was one of the best field trips ever!” – Brushy Creek Elementary School teachers
“Your love for kids and for nature was evident. Thanks for the time and effort that you put forth to make it come alive for us!” – Anderson Homeschool Association
“It was spot-on with our standards and what we had been teaching!” – Chandler Creek Elementary
Naturalist-led field trips can be scheduled for Mondays – Thursdays by calling the park office at 277-2004. There are several standards-based options to choose from:
- Preschool – Nature Rocks! -Spending time exploring the outdoors helps develop and sharpen vocabulary as well as observation and problem solving skills. Children can also learn to identify, discover and appreciate plants, animals and the natural world. At Lake Conestee Nature Park, we want kids of all ages to connect with nature! As we explore the park, we match the letters of the alphabet to the items we discover-while developing print awareness, and letter/sound knowledge. Photos can be used to make a Nature Alphabet Book back in your classroom. This program lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Preschool or Kindergarten – Who Lives Here?? – Students walk our trails looking for animals that live in the different habitats at LCNP. Realistic stuffed animals (and some live) are hiding in natural settings just waiting to be discovered by young explorers. Species identification, habitat needs and other cool facts are learned on this trip that combines exercise, exploration and education! SC Science Standards K.L.2A
- First Grade – Plant Detectives! Students will review the basic parts of a plant. Then they will be sent on a mission to collect evidence to help us decide if a certain mystery organism belongs in the Plant Kingdom! Students will observe the different structures of plants and how they can vary from plant to plant and habitat to habitat. (SC Science Standards 1.L.5A.1, 1.L.5B.2, 1.L.5B.3)
- Kindergarten or Second grade – Habitat Hunt – Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat! Students explore meadow, forest and lake habitats for evidence of air, food, water and shelter for plants and animals that call this park home. They also learn about a focus animal for each habitat – fox and rabbit in the meadow, frogs at the lake, owls and forest floor critters in the forest. (SC Science Standards K.L.2A, 2.L.5B)
- Elementary ages – Bees Make Our Cheese! – What?? How?? Students explore the two-acre pollinator plot in Henderson Meadow – filled with wildflowers, butterflies and bees! They learn about our native bee and monarch butterfly programs and the plight of pollinators worldwide – and how that affects our food. This program is shorter – 1 1/2-2.0 hours and only offered seasonally.
- Third Grade – Conestee Kitchen – It’s eat or be eaten out here! – Students explore the different natural environments in the park – putting together food chains and discovering decomposers. They will experience the “Meadow Munchies”, a “Forest Feast” and a “Lakeside Lunch”. At the meadow, student will put themselves in a meadow food chain; at the lake they will discover which beak adaptation is best for our lakeside birds; and in the forest, they will discover the decomposers and the role they play in the food chain. (SC science standards: 3.L.5, 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5A.2, 3.L.5B, 3.L.5B.1)
- Fourth Grade – Buffers and Beavers – …and how we manage both! – Students explore the plants of the riparian buffer zone, focusing on flowering vs. non-flowering and plant adaptations as well as the important function this green ribbon serves to protect our streams. Teachers can take samples of leaves and seeds back to the classroom for further exploration. Students will also discover the wetlands and one of the park’s notable inhabitants, the North American Beaver, and how he has helped engineer our park. (SC Science Standards: 4.L.5A.1, 4.L.5A.2, 4.L.5B.2, 4.L.5A.3, 4.L.5A.4, 4.L.5B.1, 4.L.5B.3)
- Fifth Grade – What’s in our Watershed? – and why do we care? Students learn about the Saluda/Reedy watershed, the historic pollution of the Reedy and Lake Conestee, and the preservation and conservation efforts to help heal this nature preserve. We will conduct a stream survey to look at deposition, erosion, and flooding; perform water quality tests and take a peek at pollution with our Enviroscape watershed model at the West Bay observation deck. (SC Science Standards: 5.E.3.A, E.3.B)
- Fifth Grade – Meadow and Piedmont Seeps Ecosystems – Students visit Henderson meadow to look at the predator/prey and producer/consumer relationships of the animals here with a special look at the eastern wild turkey. We will visit the piedmont seeps to collect aquatic organisms and discover the abundant life in this hidden fascinating ecosystem! (SC Science Standards 5.L.4.A, 4.A.2, 4B.1, 4B.2, 4B.3, 4B.4)
- Sixth Grade – Forest and Fungus – What fun! – Students work together in groups using tools, field guides, and dichotomous keys to determine species and size of trees in Henderson Meadow. Students also go on a forest walk to identify common trees, fungi, and plants of the mature oak/hickory forest. Fungi fun at the seeps follows. (SC Science Standards: 6.L.4, 6.L.4A, 6.L.4A.1, 6.L.4A.2, 6.L.4B1-5)
- Seventh Grade – Ecology Excursion – Students visit the Henderson Meadow to discover circumstances that can change the environment like limiting factors and available resources as well as discover symbiotic relationships between the plants and animals here – with a special look at the white-tail deer. The second part of the trip takes the students to the peidmont seeps, a unique wetland system, where they will catch a variety of animals and create a food web. (SC Science Standards 7.EC.5A.1, 5A.3, 5B.1, 5B.2, 5B.3, 5B.5)
- Middle School/High School – Water quality – Students perform visual stream surveys, chemical tests and/or collect aquatic invertebrates to determine the water quality of the Reedy River in the park. Limited to class size of 20 or less.
Field trips are limited to Monday through Thursday – 50 students max per day for most programs (some programs are further limited). Most programs last approximately 4 hours (roughly between 9:30 and 1:30 with a break for lunch). Program fees are $8 per student. We require 1 adult (teacher or chaperone) for every 10-15 students. Teachers and chaperones are free UNLESS you have more than one adult for every 5 students. Title One schools are eligible for a fee decrease – please let us know that you are a Title One school when booking.
Home school groups–Field trips are offered for homeschool groups Monday through Thursday – August to mid-September, November-February, and mid-May thru June. Homeschool groups are welcome to choose a program listed or choose “Hands-On Nature Walk” that encompasses topics from all the programs and is appropriate for all ages. Home school groups must meet a minimum of 12 students and are limited to 50 people (students, parents and siblings) per day. Fees are $8 per student (k-12) and $4.00 per parent and/or younger sibling (not including infants) (fees effective beginning July 1, 2015). All portions of the natural surface trails are not particularly conducive to strollers.
Call if you have any questions about our programs or want to schedule a field trip. 864-277-2004
Development of school programs is funded by the 3M Corporation through its EcoGrant program. Our educational programming is sustained by charitable donations made to the Conestee Foundation, and through modest fees for guided field trips.