Educational Programming at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art

Outdoor Adventure

January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023

Ned Smith Center For Nature & Art

  • 176 Water Company Road
  • Millersburg, PA 17061
  • 717-692-3699
  • Visit Website

Educational Programs

The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art offers several exciting educational opportunities year-round for children and adults. We offer programming to public, private and homeschool groups, boy and girl scouts, senior and adult centers, and numerous others. We always encourage groups to visit the Center to experience all that our physical location has to offer, but we understand that isn’t possible for all groups – we can also pack up our lessons and come to your school or facility!

We offer several well-developed and popular programs but can also work with your group and customize your program to ensure you get the most out of your experience. All programs are led by the NSCNA Education Department staff or experienced volunteers, all of whom are experienced teachers who are passionate about what they do. Please see our downloadable Education Program Catalog for more information about our program offerings.

Hosting an educational event? We are also able to travel with educational displays and activities for boothed events. Please contact the Center at (717) 692-3699 or email our Director of Educational Programming, Emily Rosmus, at [email protected] for more information.

Please allow at least four weeks’ notice in scheduling for all program reservations.

Program Descriptions

*EITC donations and other funding allows us to only use those funds for school programs. As such, the prices listed are valid for school programs only. Scout, adult, and other group programs may see a slightly higher fee.

Animal Olympics

Grades: PreK – 2; 30 – 45 minutes; $3 per participant

Students go head-to-head with some of Pennsylvania’s native wildlife in this interactive educational opportunity. Can you jump as high as a white-tailed deer? Or stand on one leg all day like a great blue heron? Students will have the opportunity to observe and feel animal pelts, shells, nests, and other related components.

Wonderful Water

Grades PreK – 2; 30 – 45 minutes; $3 per participant

Water, water everywhere! Students will follow a single raindrop’s journey through the water cycle and learn about why in the world water is so important to every living organism on Earth.

Busy Bees

Grades PreK – 2; 30-45 minutes; $5 per participant; Onsite only

Utilizing the display beehive at the Center, students will discover the complex life cycles and social structure of honey bee colonies. They will take turns acting as worker bees, drones, and even the queen herself! We will also discuss native pollinators and why they are so important to protect. 

The Incredible Journey

Grades 3 – 5; 45 minutes; $3 per participant

While learning about the water cycle, why water is important, and the different states of matter, students will take on the role of an individual raindrop traveling through life, experiencing life in the ocean, condensing into clouds, and falling back to Earth as rain during an interactive game.

Ecosystem Explorations

Grades 3 – 8; 45 minutes; $5 per participant

Discover the 4 things all organisms need to survive with a hands-on, inquisitive activity that will have the students putting their habitat knowledge to the test. Students will take a deeper look into populations, learn about carrying capacity, and play out what would happen if the ecosystem ran into trouble.

All About Trees

Grades 3 – 10; 50 minutes; $9 per participant

Trees are everywhere – in our backyards, forests, cities, and parks. Have you ever slowed down to think about what exactly a tree is, though? Where did trees come from? How do trees work? What makes a tree a tree? Student’s will answer all these questions and more during this tree-centric program! (Each participating student will receive a Tree Identification Booklet.)


En Plein Air Painting

Grades 3 – 12; 45-60 minutes; $8 per participant; On- or offsite, outdoor space required

What better way to discover wildlife art than to be outside, creating art? The French term “plein air” means “out of doors.” En plein air painting was popularized during the Impressionist art movement and lives on with modern artists. Students will learn about the Impressionist movement, but also about Ned Smith’s legacy and how he created his wildlife art before creating their own plein air artwork.

All About Owls w/ Owl Pellet Dissection

Grades 3 – 12; 45 minutes; $8 per participant

Owls remain one of nature’s most elusive predators, rarely letting themselves be seen or heard by humans. During this program, students will learn all about owls and their adaptations for survival and have the opportunity to dissect an owl pellet! After identifying what the owl was snacking on, students will be able to preserve their skeletal findings to take home, compliments of the NSCNA!

Nature Journaling
Grades 4 – 12; 1 hour minimum; $5 per participant
Many notable naturalists, including Ned Smith, keep detailed nature journals to document their discoveries and observations about the natural world. Students will make and customize their own nature journals as well as learn how to make useful observations, drawing inspiration from some of Ned Smith’s writing and artwork. Students will then have a chance to use their journals on the Center’s lands (or school grounds) to record their observations and sketches.

Nature Photography

Grades 4 – 12; 1.5 hour minimum; $5 per participant

Using digital cameras provided by the Center, students will learn basic photography rules, skills, and proper camera usage. Students will explore the Center’s property (or school grounds) to capture images of the natural world. Wildlife feeding stations, gardens, and trails are just a few of the areas on NSCNA property that can be utilized for this program. Students will be able to print two or three of the images they’ve captured to take home.

Aquatic Resources*

Grades 4 – 12; 45 minutes; $5 per participant

With the Wiconisco Creek running through the Center’s property, it is the perfect place to teach students about aquatic resources. Students will learn about watersheds, point source, and non-point source pollution through the Center’s Enviroscape, a hands-on model perfect for helping students visualize and model the effects of water pollution. 

*Add on a 1 hour macroinvertebrate study for an additional $2 per participant! Only available onsite, April – May, for grades 7-12.

GPS Skills / Geocaching

Grades 6 – 12; 1 – 1.5 hours; $5 per participant; Onsite only

Geocaching is a popular pastime that challenges players across the globe to create and find hidden containers called Geocaches. This ‘treasure hunt’ gets people outside, exploring their surroundings and making connections with other geocachers. After practicing the basics of navigation and learning the ins and outs of GPS, students will set out with a GPS unit in hand to search for geocache(s) on Ned Smith Center lands. 

Animal Diets

Grades 6 – 12; 50 minutes; $5 per participant; Onsite only, not available in winter

We’ve all learned about our own nutrition, but have you ever thought about what an animal needs to eat to survive? Students will get a crash-course in animal nutrition and learn about the diets of several Pennsylvania animals before conducting an experiment and collecting their own data to analyze the diets of animals at the Ned Smith Center. 

The ABC’s of Animal Behavior

Grades 8 – 12; 50 minutes; $5 per participant

How do animals learn? Why do they do the things they do? How can we train animals using what we know about behavior? Why is Pavlov’s dog so slobbery? In this interactive program, students will get a glimpse into the complex world of animal behavior, learn about two main theories of behavior, and think like a scientist to practice studying an animal’s interactions with the world.

Tree Identification 

Grades 8 – 12; 50 minutes; $10 per participant

Can you identify a Sassafras by its smell? What about a Red Oak by looking at its twigs and buds? What do we use Hemlock trees for? In this outdoor program, students will take a walk along Berry Mountain while learning how to identify common tree species of Pennsylvania, their cultural, historical, or environmental significance, and pick up some in-tree-guing tips and tricks along the way! (Each participating student will receive a Tree Identification Booklet.) 

Guided Nature Hike 

Grades PreK – 12; up to 1 hour; $3 per participant; Onsite only

Take a hike on one of our numerous trails that wind throughout the Center’s 535 acres of forest and stream. Staff from the Center’s Education Department will lead a guided nature walk on a trail of your choice and cover a specific topic, if desired (e.g. trees, fungi, etc.) With over 9 miles of trails, several of which are ADA accessible, there are trails of all levels of difficulty. The Center can provide supplemental teaching tools including identification sheets, magnifying glasses, and binoculars. 

Guided Bird Walk 

Grades PreK – 12; up to 1 hour; $3 per participant; Onsite only

Educators will lead your group on a guided walk, focusing on birds. Before hitting the trails, students will explore the importance of citizen science programs such as eBird and learn some basic bird-ID skills. Binoculars and bird identification tools will be provided.

Personalized Program

Grades PreK – 12; beginning at $10 per participant

Looking to cover a specific topic, complete a specific activity or meet a certain standard? Our talented team of educators can work with you to meet that goal. To allot for development time and any materials we may need to purchase, personalized programs start at $10 per participant and must be booked at least 4 weeks in advance.

Virtual Programs:

Each lesson includes:

• An initial virtual meeting with instructors to schedule and test video meeting platform

• A live, virtual program or activity 

• Additional activities for educators to use after the program for continuing learning and discovery

• In-classroom or at-home capabilities

The fee per program is a flat $50, with additional material and shipping/delivery costs if materials are requested from the Center. Please inquire for possible topics.

Teaching Trunks:

Teaching trunks are available for rent, free of charge, for a maximum of 2 weeks at a time. Trunks are available to rent for grades 3-5 or grades 6-8 and contain age-appropriate materials and directions for any leader or educator to guide students through the lesson.

Watershed Conservation and Aquatic Resources:

Reserve a teaching trunk to assist your group with learning about aquatic resources. Teaching trunks are set up to assist teachers in engaging students with hands-on lessons involving aquatic ecosystems. Trunks contain lesson plans, reference guides, and tools to use in the classroom and in the field. Activities are designed to be completed near any available water source. The trunks are designed to align with Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Environmental Science and Ecology. This program has been funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.






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