School Programs

To set up a class trip, contact our teachers here. 

The Conservancy’s outdoor education program is unique.

It is inclusive: the Conservancy’s outdoor education programs are free and available to public, charter and public schools, home school programs, and groups like scouts and 4-H.

Its quality is superlative. Our school-based programs support and enhance the California State Science and History Curricula.

Our teachers are experienced and committed. Meet them here. Over 48,000 people have participated in The Conservancy’s program since 1999.

The Santa Lucia Preserve provides rich material for science, history, and art.  The Preserve is home to over 1,000 species, some of which live nowhere else on earth.  Age-appropriate classes uncover secrets of old growth redwoods and other unique ecosystems, as well as their diverse inhabitants and interactions between them.

Classes Carefully Catered to Ages & Interest

The Conservancy’s outdoor education programming is consistent with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Contact us here.

Our outdoor curriculum is adaptive, each course can be customized for a range of grade levels.


All levels: Guided Nature Walk

We combine hands-on ecology and natural exploration along Carmel River or its tributary Potrero Creek.  Scout for tracks, scat, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and an amazing array of plants, from tiny wildflowers to staggering redwoods.


All levels: Art & Poetry

One of our most memorable classes infuses discovery with creativity. Come curious for an exciting nature walk, and stay for nature-inspired creative reflection through writing and art.  We customize classes to the age and interests of each particular group.

All Levels: Mammals and their Tracks

Make a plaster cast of a local wild animal. Learn about the natural history of the animal you choose, and how its foot aids in its survival. Become a “nature detective” to discover tracks, scat, animals homes, and other indications of animals’ presence.


Pre-K & Kindergarten: Sensory Nature Walk

Wander through nature with guidance towards the smells, feels, sounds, and sights.

First Grade: Seasonal Nature Walk

Seasonal change offers endless opportunities for discovery.  Find your own sign of spring or fall and create a story for each.


We’re happy to incorporate special lessons on butterflies, mammals, owls, oaks, or the subject of your choice into our nature walk.

First through Third Grade: All About Bugs

Learn about the natural history of insects and other “mini-beasts” and observe them in their homes. We will go on a bug hunt in our highly diverse riparian ecosystem.

Second Grade: Introduction to Birds

Meet the special qualities of the birds that live around our Visitor Center, and learn about their habitat needs.  Hands on lessons cover bird adaptations such as beaks, feet, and song (outdoor classroom, spring only).

Second Grade & Above: Owls in the Redwoods

Study the rare and fascinating owls of The Preserve and learn about the natural history of other raptors as well.  Study feathers, owl calls and pellets, and marvel at their habitat.

Third Grade & Above: Santa Lucia Preserve California History and Native American use of Plants

Study local history, which supports 3rd and 4th grade history curriculum standards. Native Americans, Spanish explorers and missionaries, and early Californian ranchers all called this land home. Learn about the plants used by Native Americans, tying together history and landscape.

Third Grade & Above: A Day in the Life

What was a typical day in the Carmel Valley for the Rumsen people? The Rumsen were the Native American group who lived on the Monterey Peninsula for 10,000 years before Europeans arrived.  Imagine Portero Canyon as they would have seen it: a place to live and play, collect seeds and basket materials, hunt and fish, and prepare for winter.

Fourth Grade & Above: Redwoods are Amazing

Visit some of the last old growth redwood groves in their southern range in the Potrero Canyon, and receive a hands-on introduction to the natural history, ecosystem, and conservation of our state tree.  Funded in part by a grant from the Save the Redwoods League.

Fourth Grade & Above: Watershed Study

Study the Carmel River watershed, including stream restoration and conservation, steelhead ecology and other local endangered species, and walk to the headwaters of Potrero Creek.

Fourth Grade & Above: the Riparian Ecosystem

The highest diversity of plants and animals live in streamside environments.  Life along Portero Creek provides hands-on learning about ecosystems and food webs, with many examples of each.

Junior High and High School Students:

The Carmel River and Potrero Canyon are excellent outdoor labs for science, history, and art study. We welcome older students for enriching nature study, including Biology and AP Environmental Science classes.


Click here to access the field trip waiver.