School/Group Programs


Dear Teachers, Administrators, Library Directors, and Other Group Leaders,

An enriching nature experience is possible no matter what circumstances we are facing! In fact, a meaningful connection to nature is perhaps even more important during tumultuous times. White Memorial wants to be there for you and help facilitate these valuable experiences. At present, we are available to present in-person programs in outdoor settings, as well as virtual programs and videos that highlight nature topics and encourage outdoor endeavors.

School groups, homeschool organizations, scout troops, libraries, senior centers, churches, garden clubs, and all other groups with participants ranging from preschoolers to adults are encouraged to schedule a nature experience with us by calling 860-567-0857 or emailing Financial aid is available to qualified schools and groups on a first-come, first-served basis.

Program descriptions are listed below, along with the Next Generation Science Standards and CT ELD Standards they complement when applicable. Programs denoted by a caret (^) are best suited for audiences of children. Programs denoted by an asterisk (*) are best suited for adults. All other programs listed work for all ages and audiences. If you do not see a program that meets your needs, we can customize a program for your group.


Giving students opportunities to be outdoors has already been shown to benefit their social, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Now, in the age of COVID-19, we’re also finding that being outdoors is the safer option! So, let’s learn about the outdoors while being outdoors!

Many of our programs can be presented in any outdoor space at your facility, provided all of the necessary safety protocols can be met outside. Because our presenter will be visiting as a guest, all participants including our presenter will need to wear masks. We will also need to enforce a 6 ft. distance between the presenter and the rest of the participants (and amongst all participants if that is the regulation of your school/organization). Suitable outdoor spaces can range from outdoor classrooms to ballfields to cordoned-off parking lots, even to nearby parks that your class can walk to. Our outreach programs do not require any technological devices or a Wi-Fi connection.

Typical outreach programs last 45 minutes – 1 hour and cost $175 plus 58¢ per mile round-trip from White Memorial. Replicate programs (on the same day) are $130. We offer shortened outreach programs for preschoolers (30 minutes), which cost $130 as opposed to the typical $175.


We certainly understand that any activity requiring more “screen time” is not ideal. However, when the situation necessitates it, we hope that our virtual programming can enlighten children about nature-related topics and inspire them to go outdoors and apply their newfound knowledge. Here are some options for virtual programming:

Option 1: We present a traditional live “webinar” about a topic related to nature. Many of the programs listed below can be presented in this format.

Option 2: We send you a pre-recorded lesson from the list below, which gives your group the flexibility to watch at any time.

Option 3: We virtually guide your participants through a live outdoor discovery session, either on your facility grounds or at a local park to which your group can walk. Your participants will be outside on the virtual call while our presenter remotely instructs them to find certain objects in nature (e.g. cones, acorns, feathers, etc.). We will teach participants fun facts and identification tips for whatever objects they find. This option requires Wi-Fi capabilities in your outdoor space.

Option 4: Our educator visits your outdoor site (which can be your facility grounds or a local park) independently and records a “highlights” video of the natural wonders there, anything from trees to rocks to tiny critters under logs. Your participants can then watch the video, sent via an email link, learn about those highlights, and visit that same location at your convenience to “take in” the outdoor experience. Once you receive a link to a pre-recorded video, you can share it with other teachers at your facility.

The cost for Options 1, 2, or 3 is $150 for the first program and $100 for any additional programs booked at the same time. For Option #4, the cost is $250 plus 58¢ per mile round-trip from White Memorial. 


White Memorial has a vast amount of wide open, beautiful outdoor space. If, by chance, your group is able to visit White Memorial’s property during this pandemic, we are happy to present certain programs listed below in one of our outdoor areas (masks are required for all participants). However, our Nature Museum remains closed, so groups cannot make the Museum part of their visit. Indoor bathrooms will be available as needed. Typical programs last 45 minutes and cost $95 each.

Call 860-567-0857 or email to schedule your nature experience with White Memorial Conservation Center! Once again, program options are listed below.


Carrie Szwed
Education Director


Animal Adaptations

One of our most popular programs, Animal Adaptations uses natural props, animal mounts, and a couple of LIVE animals to illustrate the definitions of both a structural and behavioral adaptation, as well as how adaptations help animals survive in different environments. Participants will then be shown “mystery props” from local animals, for which they will propose how these body parts serve as adaptations for the animals.
NGSS: (3)-LS4.B,C; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; (MS)-LS4.B,C; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information; CC: Structure & Function

Animal Architects* (Virtual only)

Egypt, Greece, Rome; from Thomas Jefferson to I. M. Pei; humanity’s history has been chock full of extraordinary architects and architecture. We, however, were not the first to erect monumental structures! While humans had yet to emerge from caves, many animals were going gangbusters impressing mates with their own monuments! Meet some incredible builders in this one-hour picture presentation by Gerri Griswold, celebrating the glory of human and animal architecture. (A kids’ version of this program could be created if requested.)

A Plant’s Life (In-person only, onsite or outreach)^

Plants have a life cycle, just like animals do. Using the more familiar life cycle of an owl for comparison, participants will understand similarities and differences between basic animal and plant life cycles. We’ll cover all aspects of the plant life cycle, including seed germination, growth, flowering, pollination, and seed dispersal. Several interactive activities are included, as well as a visit from a live owl!
NGSS: (2)-LS2.A; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; SEP: Using Models

Bats Are Good Guys

Gerri Griswold presents a lavishly illustrated talk that touches on the basics of one of the most beneficial and maligned animals on our planet–the bat. How many species of bats are there? Where do they live? Why are they so important to us? What is harming them? Those questions and so much more will be addressed. You may even meet a live ambassador, if available!

Classify This^

We’ll discuss how both plants and animals can be placed into groups based on similar characteristics. Students will take part in an activity that reinforces the grouping technique, and will also meet a couple of live animals up close. (This program is similar to “Creature Features,” but includes the classification of plants too.)
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; System Models; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 36.5, 48.5, 60.7

Climate Change, Connecticut, and YOU!^ (Virtual only)

Climate change affects people and wildlife everywhere, even here in CT. The good news is, everyone, even kids, can help combat climate change. This program begins with a kid-friendly overview of the who-what-when-where-why and how’s of global climate change using videos, discussion, and demonstrations. Next we delve into how climate change is affecting CT specifically, featuring a live appearance by a salamander. The programs ends with a fun quiz game that explores how kids can make a real difference by reducing their carbon footprint.
NGSS: (4)ESS3.A; (MS)ESS2.C & D; (MS)ESS3.C & D; SEP: Asking Questions; Using Models; Obtaining & Communicating Information; CC: Cause & Effect; Systems; Energy & Matter; Stability & Change

Creature Features^

What makes a mammal a mammal? Or a reptile a reptile? How about an amphibian an amphibian? Scientists have grouped animals based on similar features. Using natural props, animal mounts, and LIVE animals, Education Director Carrie Szwed will break down the characteristics of several major animal groups. (If you’re looking for a program that also discusses the classification of plants, see “Classify THIS.”)
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; System Models; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 36.5, 48.5, 60.7

Do the Locomotion^

Participants will get to impersonate animals, and even meet several live animals up close, in order to learn how wildlife move in unique ways to find food and water. Get ready to jump like a frog, slither like a snake, and swim like a fish with Education Director Carrie Szwed.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A
CT ELDS Strand C Science: 48.5, 48.7, 60.7, 60.9

Get Into Insects!^ (Virtual only)

What makes an insect an insect and why are they so important? Using artistry and actual invertebrate specimens, this program will teach young students what distinguishes and insect and why these cool and crawly critters are an integral part of any ecosystem.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; CC: Patterns
CT ELDS: Strand C Science: 48.5, 60.7

Helping Nature’s Not-So-Cuddly^

This program teaches children how to be heroes to creatures that often get overlooked or mistreated because of their unhuggable appearance. After meeting at least a live turtle and snake up close, children will learn how to safely help turtles cross the road, how to create wildlife habitat in their own backyard, and how to advocate for all of “Nature’s Not-So-Cuddly.”
NGSS: (5)-ESS3.C

Iceland Through My Heart* (Virtual only)

To say that Iceland might be Gerri Griswold’s second home would be an understatement. Since taking a weekend jaunt to our closest European neighbor in 2002, she has visited “The Land of Fire and Ice” 51 times. Take a one hour trip 66 degrees north and be overwhelmed by the landscape, nature, and people of this breathtaking country which boasts 100% literacy, is the home of the first Parliament established in 930 AD, and possesses the cleanest air and water on our planet.

It’s Alive!^

What makes something a living thing? Why is a rock not a living thing? To help young children understand what is living and nonliving in nature, Education Director Carrie Szwed will use many natural props, animal mounts, and even a couple of LIVE animals. Of course, being that we are animals, we’ll also discuss what makes US alive!
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (1)-LS1.B,D; CC: Patterns
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 36.5, 48.5, 60.7

Measuring Our Impact^ (Virtual only)

Human activity clearly has a major impact on the natural environment and its inhabitants. Historically, much of this impact has been negative. After discussing several causes of species endangerment, we’ll take an interactive poll to find out how to make sure our environmental footprint for the future is a positive one. A couple of live animals and several natural props will enhance the program.
NGSS: (3)-ESS2.D; (4)-ESS2.E; (4)-ESS3.A; (5)-LS2.A; (5)-ESS3.C; (MS)-LS2.A,C,D; (MS)-ESS3.A,C,D; (HS)-LS4.C,D; (HS)-ETS1.B; SEP: Defining Problems; Interpreting Data; Designing Solutions; CC: Cause & Effect; Scale, Proportion, & Quantity; Stability & Change

Meet the North American Porcupine (Virtual only)

Have you ever seen a porcupine in CT? Would you like to know more about Connecticut’s elusive “Quill Pig?” North American Porcupines are large, solitary rodents commonly found in New England. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they can be found perched in the top of a tree during the day. Porcupines are herbivores and typically have 20,000 to 30,000 quills that cover most of their body. Gerri Griswold will address the natural history of one of Connecticut’s most fascinating species and the world’s third-largest rodent in her beautifully-illustrated talk.
NGSS: (4)-LS1.A

Nevermore: Extinct Species Series* (Virtual only)

Gerri Griswold has always been in awe of extinct species. This four part series introduces you to four fascinating animals that have become extinct at the hands of humans: the Thylacine, Great Auk, Passenger Pigeon, and Dodo Bird. Programs can also be presented individually. The series, taught over 4 sessions, costs $400 total. Each program presented individually costs $150.

Nick of Time: DDT and Raptors* (Virtual only)

Rachel Carson painted a world void of the sounds of insects and birds in her ground-breaking book Silent Spring, published in 1962. Millions were stunned to discover the deadly consequences of our increasing dependence on potent pesticides. Poisons like DDT slowly accumulated in each stage of the food chain, almost destroying some birds of prey like the Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle. Gerri Griswold will give a talk on the history of DDT and the amazing comeback of raptor species with the discontinuation of its use.

Nowhere is a Place ~ Adventures in Chilean Patagonia* (Virtual only)

Spend an hour with Gerri Griswold as she shares breathtaking images from this ethereal travel destination tucked along the tail of the Andes near the bottom of the world. Meet the people, animals, and numerous microclimates that define this mythical place.

Outdoor Discovery Session^

No matter what “green space” we’re in, whether it’s at your site, at White Memorial, or at a park near you, we can find nature! We’ll lead participants in several fun physical activities, including a seek-and-find mission to spy natural items, from cones to acorns to feathers to live critters! Participants will truly get to be immersed in their outdoor environment, wherever it is, while learning some fun facts and ID tips about the natural items all around them. We will work with you beforehand to establish what green space we’ll use and develop the perfect program.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (K)-ESS3.A; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS4.C; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; (HS)-LS2.A,C; (HS)-LS4.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Systems; Structure & Function; Stability & Change
CT ELDS: Strand A Science – 48.1, 60.2; Strand C Science – 48.5, 48.7, 60.8, 60.9

Pond Prowl (In-person only, onsite at Ongley Pond)

Have you ever seen a dragonfly nymph or a water scorpion? Find out what aquatic macroinvertebrates live in a pond during a hands-on catch-and-release discovery session. Various themes, such as metamorphosis, predator-prey relationships, or adaptations, can be explored depending on the group’s needs. No matter what, plan to get your hands dirty! 
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (K)-ESS3.A; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; (HS)-LS2.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; Analyzing & Interpreting Data (HS only); Using Mathematics & Computational Thinking (HS only); CC: Structure & Function; Stability & Change (MS & HS only)

Radical Raptors

Just who-who-whoo are those big, beautiful birds of prey you see perched atop fenceposts by day or hear calling outside your window by night? This interactive presentation by Education Director Carrie Szwed covers the hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons that call northwest CT home. You’ll even get to meet our two most common raptors, the barred owl and red-tailed hawk, up close and personal!
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A,D; (2)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A,D; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.5, 60.7

Rare and Remarkable (In-person only, in an outdoor setting)

Many people do not realize that there are endangered species even here in CT. Using two live animals and several interactive games and activities, you’ll find out what local species are considered in peril, why they’re each important, and what we can do to help them. Also hear success stories of animals coming back from the brink of extinction due to our conservation efforts.
NGSS: (3)LS4.D; (MS)-LS2.C,D; (HS)-ETS1.B; SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information; CC: Cause & Effect; Scale, Proportion, & Quality; Stability & Change

Remembering Rex Brasher: Painter of Birds* (Virtual only)

Celebrate a truly wonderful, but relatively unknown avian artist, Rex Brasher. Based in Kent, CT, Rex was a prolific painter who produced 875 original watercolors depicting 1200 species/subspecies of North American birds. In fact, Brasher painted (from live observation!) more than twice as many birds as his better-known predecessor, John James Audubon. All of his original works now reside under lock and key at UCONN’s Dodd Center. Rex’s story is one of the greatest in art history and in Americana. You honestly won’t believe it!

Respect Our Resources^

Humans depend on the Earth’s natural resources. But, with over 7 billion people on Earth, those resources are getting used up fast! First, we’ll define/review “natural resource,” “renewable,” and “nonrenewable,” and show an array of everyday products that come from natural resources. Then we’ll see actual examples of renewable resources that are hopefully the wave of the future. Finally, we’ll brainstorm what actions we can take to preserve our global supply of natural resources. A live animal will also make an appearance!
NGSS: (3)LS2.C; (3)-LS4.D; (4)-ESS3.A; (5)-LS2.B; (5)-ESS3.C; (MS)-ESS3.A,C; (HS)-ESS3.A,C; SEP: Designing Solutions; CC: Stability & Change

Seeds, Please^

Seeds are basically baby plants and trees in really cool packages! Through the use of lots of sample seeds and engaging activities, Education Director Carrie Szwed will discuss how seeds develop into plants, the variety of shapes and sizes that seeds are “packaged” in, and how they are dispersed.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A,B; (2)-LS2.A; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; CC: Patterns; Systems; Structure & Function

Take a Hike!

People just don’t get outside enough anymore! Let one of our staff expose your group to the wonders of the outdoors on a guided nature discovery hike. We’ll identify and provide fun facts about several plants and animals, and explain their roles in the ecosystem. This program works well for all age levels and ranges! Hikes can either be conducted on White Memorial property or on a trail at your location. If you are unable to have in-person guests in contact with your group, we can record a video on the trail for you to share.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (K)-ESS3.A; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS4.C; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS2.A; (MS)-LS2.A,B,C; (HS)-LS2.A,C; (HS)-LS4.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Systems; Structure & Function; Stability & Change
CT ELDS: Strand A Science – 48.1, 60.2; Strand C Science – 48.5, 48.7, 60.8, 60.9

The Navel of the World ~ Easter Island* (Virtual only)

In sixth grade, Gerri Griswold read Norwegian explorer Thor Hyerdahl’s Kon Tiki. It never left her system. Griswold finally answered the calling in October 2017 by celebrating her 60th birthday on the world’s most remotely populated island with her good friend and travel-obsessed colleague, Liz Frazier-Zygmont. Spend some time reliving their remarkable journey. You’ll not only see some pretty amazing photographs, but also learn that Easter Island (a.k.a. Isla de Pascua, Rapa Nui) is much more than the Moai statues that define it for so many.

The Power of Plants^ (In-person only, onsite in the White Memorial Main Area)

Plants are simply amazing organisms, not to mention necessary for our survival! After a discussion on the importance of plants, as well as an activity covering photosynthesis, we will go on a short walk around the Museum looking for notable examples of local plants.
NGSS: (4,5, MS, HS)-LS1.C; (MS)-PS3.D; SEP: Using Models; Engaging in Argument from Evidence; CC: Energy & Matter; Structure & Function

The Sound of (Nature’s) Music

The Litchfield Hills are alive with the sound of music…birds singing, toads trilling, coyotes howling! Join Education Director Carrie Szwed for a program about the “music” of animals. Identifying animals by sound is a great way to get to know the creatures that call CT home. Audiences will learn just “who-who-whoooo” is making those common noises we hear in nature. A live barred owl will make an appearance too!
NGSS: (2)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A & D; CC: Patterns, Structure & Function

The Wildlife Outside Our Windows (Virtual version is called “What’s That Wild Neighbor?”)

Using LIVE animals and natural props, this popular program provides insight into the diversity of fascinating creatures we have in Connecticut. In an interactive format, we’ll discuss the natural history of each animal presented, as well as general biodiversity information for CT’s wildlife. This program is easily adapted for audiences of all adults, all children, families, or the general public.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A; SEP: Constructing Explanations; CC: Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.5, 60.7

The World According to Gerri* (Virtual only)

COVID-19 might have clipped her wings, but that does not stop globe-trotting Gerri Griswold from revisiting some of her most beloved photographs from journeys through Europe, Russia, and South America. Join her on a houseboat in Paris and a windmill in the Netherlands. Ride on a sure-footed Icelandic horse across a frozen lake in the north of Iceland. Wander the cobblestone streets of Normandy’s Mont Saint Michel and the avenues of Neolithic Carnac in Brittany. From the top of a dormant volcano on Easter Island to the base of the Andes in remarkable Chilean Patagonia to streets lined with silver shops in Taxco to the beautiful, horrible, terrible, wonderful monster, Mexico City. Stunning visuals and stories abound!  

“Trees are a Breeze” Identification Hike^ (In-person only, onsite on the Lake Trail)

Take a leisurely hike through the woods and get to know our local trees better, including how they function and why they are important to us, and to other animals. We’ll do some interactive activities to reinforce these concepts. For the appropriate ages, we’ll also teach you some simple identification tricks for trees such as sugar maple, white pine, red oak, yellow birch, and more. Please wear appropriate hiking shoes and layers.
NGSS: (K)-LS1.C; (1)-LS1.A; (2)-LS2.A; (2)-LS4.D; (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (5)-LS1.C; (MS)-LS1.B; (MS)-LS2.C; SEP: Carrying Out Investigations; CC: Scale, Proportion, & Quality; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand A Science – 60.3; Strand C Science – 48.5, 60.7

Way To Grow!^ (Virtual only)

Why do some animal babies look just like their parents while others look like completely different organisms all together? Animals are born and grow in different ways. During this program, Education Director Carrie Szwed will compare and contrast the growth and life cycles of several local animal species, including those that go through the magic of metamorphosis. A couple of live examples will be included!
NGSS: (1)-LS1.B; (1)-LS3.A,B; (3)-LS1.B; CC: Patterns
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.6, 60.8

White Memorial Through the Seasons* (Virtual only)

Gerri Griswold pays tribute to Connecticut’s greatest land conservationists, Alain and May White. This brother and sister pair left their fingerprints all over Litchfield County, beginning with our 4,000 acre sanctuary, but also in the gifts they bestowed upon the state of CT: Kent Falls, People’s State Forest, Macedonia State Park, Dean Ravine and more! Sit back and enjoy breathtaking images from a variety of contributors depicting the extraordinary people, places, and things that make White Memorial a living masterpiece throughout the seasons!

Who’s a Herp?: Reptiles and Amphibians^

Reptiles and amphibians are defined by certain characteristics that set them apart from each other. Through up-close encounters with several live animals, Education Director Carrie Szwed will teach participants about the characteristics, habitats, life cycles, and adaptations of various species of reptiles and amphibians throughout CT. Then, we’ll discuss what these two groups of “herps” have in common.
NGSS: (3)-LS1.B; (4)-LS1.A; (MS)-LS1.B; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function

Wildlife in Winter^

What strategies do animals employ to get through harsh winter conditions? Using natural props, animal mounts, and a couple of LIVE animals, we’ll discuss how some animals in CT remain active in winter, while others hibernate, migrate, or go into torpor. For younger audiences, this program includes a beautifully-illustrated non-fiction story.
NGSS: (1)-LS1.A; (4)-LS1.A,D; CC: Patterns; Structure & Function
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.7, 60.9

Wildlife Welcomes Spring

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up program to combat the stubbornness of New England’s winters, this may be the perfect one! “Wildlife Welcomes Spring” can be presented anytime in March or the beginning of April. Several live animals, as well as natural props, are used to discuss why spring is a much-anticipated season for wildlife too. Learn from Education Director Carrie Szwed what animals you can expect to see and hear as temperatures warm up and days get longer. 
NGSS: (3)-LS4.D; (4)-LS1.A,D; (MS)-LS1.B, LS2.A; CC: Patterns, Cause and Effect
CT ELDS: Strand C Science – 48.1, 60.2, 48.7, 60.9