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Field-based Natural Science Education for Grades K-12

Working in conjunction with the local school district and private schools, Walking Mountains Science Center intends to serve every K-12 school child in Eagle County through natural science programs that take place in nature, compliment classroom curriculum and narrow the achievement gap by enhancing scientific and environmental literacy.

More than a field trip, our school programs are outdoor learning experiences that provide students with the opportunity to practice detailed observation, work together as a team, participate in research affecting local and national land-use decisions, and gain greater connection to the natural world in which they live. Course topics can range from geology and forest ecology to stream ecology, snow science and more.

Our graduate educators work closely with teachers to ensure that field course curriculum is aligned with state and district standards in language arts, math, and science and our multi-disciplinary, experiential approach engages students by accommodating multiple learning styles.

For Teachers - Standards Addressed by Grade Level

Walking Mountains Science Center's K-12 school group programs include:


  • A pre-visit to the classroom;
  • One or two full field days (depending on age and curriculum)



Educational Goals

Walking Mountains Science Center’s school group programs are guided by four overarching educational goals: 

Increase natural science literacy

In programs that are aligned with district and state science standards, students will develop naturalist skills and apply scientific inquiry through explorations of the local environment. The will increase their understanding of earth sciences, life sciences, and ecological processes.

Inspire personal connection with the natural world

Students will appreciate that time in nature can inspire personal enjoyment and self-discovery. Through hiking, solo reflection, and exploration, Walking Mountains programs will expose students to the fun and healthy opportunities afforded by being outdoors.

Promote leadership and teamwork

Students will learn to participate as productive leaders and members of a team or community. Through group challenges, initiatives, research projects, and communal living, students will demonstrate effective and appropriate communication, equal sharing of responsibilities, and trust amongst team members.

Inspire stewardship

Students will understand important ways that humans rely upon the ecosystem and think critically about the impact of human choices on it. They will learn how Native Americans, miners, ranchers, and the military have used our ecosystem in the past for survival and livelihood, and how various individuals and groups use it today. Students will consider different options and perspectives regarding land use and management.

Message to Parents

The field day is a safe, fun, outdoor experience.

Students have an opportunity to explore natural science topics in a hands-on, structured environment, working as a team with their field group of 8-10 students to accomplish physical and academic goals. Educators are trained teachers who work with students to teach natural science in an environment that challenges them to ask questions and think critically to find answers.

During a field day, students spend the day hiking or snowshoeing in small groups stopping along the way to participate in activities such as game and journaling that are designed to focus their attention on aspects of the natural world.

Programs go out regardless of the weather, so it is important that students are prepared with all of the items they need. Instructors review necessary equipment with students during the in-class visit, and have gear to supplement missing items during the field day gear check.

Parent chaperones are an important aspect of the field experience, so please come join us. Parents often find themselves learning and having fun right alongside their kids, and our instructors always welcome your insights from living and playing in our valley.


Walking Mountains Science Center takes safety seriously and prides itself on
maintaining a highly trained teaching staff.

All field educators:


  • Are certified Wilderness First Responders and have participated in the Walking Mountains’ Risk Management Training.
  • Review participant Medical Information Forms, and carry these, along with the Risk Release Form and a well-stocked first aid kit, into the field in case of emergency.
  • Are familiar with each field site and provide an environmental briefing to participants to call attention to potential dangers.
  • Receive ongoing training throughout the year to maintain their attention to detail as the seasons change.


      p.o. box 9469
318 walking mountains lane
        avon, co 81620

  970.827.9725 p 970.827.9730 f


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Walking Mountains operates under special use permit from the White River National Forest and is an equal opportunity service provider.  All or part of this operation is conducted on Public Lands under special permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Walking Mountains Science Center™ is a 501(3c) nonprofit that provides place-based education in natural and environmental science through science programs for Eagle County schools, summer science day camps and overnight camps, adult and family excursions that take place across Vail, Colorado and Eagle County, Colorado. Graduate fellows can apply to be environmental educators and intern naturalists. Our educational programs enhance scientific literacy, build environmental awareness, and inspire stewardship in children, adults, residents and visitors to the Vail area and Rocky Mountains. The science center recently achieved LEED Platinum Certification for the Buck Creek Campus from the U.S. Green Building Council.