Discover Nature Schools

Group of students conducting research outside.


Two students analyzing the species caught in their dip net.
MDC staff

One of the best ways for students to learn about nature is to interact with the outdoors. That’s why the Missouri Department of Conservation worked with teachers and conservation educators to create a statewide conservation science education program called Discover Nature Schools (DNS).

DNS emphasizes hands-on learning, teaches problem-solving, and provides authentic and local contexts for learning. DNS teaches students from pre-K through high school about Missouri’s native plants, animals, and habitats and connects them with nature.

Key elements of the program include the following:

Student books, teacher guides, and training workshops are available at no charge to Missouri educators. Teachers who formally enroll in the DNS program are eligible for additional resources including grant opportunities for equipment and field trips.

Not only do the DNS curriculum units meet the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Missouri Learning Standards, but there are also big benefits for students. A recent study of the program shows that DNS increased the amount of time students spent in activities and field experiences outside the classroom. Learning outdoors improves students' physical and mental health, increases scores on standardized tests, and reduces attention-deficit problems.

After using the DNS program, a teacher said, “I have never had a class as excited about learning science as the one I have taught this year using this curriculum.” Another teacher said, “Just a couple of weeks ago the parents of one of my former students visited with me and thanked me for helping their daughter decide to become a marine biologist. This is strongly connected to her experiences with the animals inside and outside my classroom.”

Join more than 600 Missouri schools, and launch the program in your school or class. Contact your local conservation educator for more information. Browse all available curriculum units below.

In This Section

Nature Revealed cover detail with a sun and coneflower

Nature Revealed (Pre-K)

Nature Revealed is a diverse collection of learning experiences that give Pre-K teachers and parents the planning tools, activities, and resources to stimulate children's sense of wonder of nature.

Cover of Bears Through the Seasons with a bear and two cubs in a tree.


The Discover Nature Schools Kindergarten: Bears Through the Season lesson pages is where you can access the online digital lessons and materials for your classroom such as audio, videos, and support links.

Nature Unfolds Cover showing a turkey chick

Nature Unfolds (K-2)

Nature Unfolds introduces young students to the life cycles, seasons, weather, and basic needs of plants and animals, through hands-on activities and a fully illustrated student book.

Nature Unleashed cover with a dragonfly and a heron eating a fish

Nature Unleashed (Grades 3-5)

Nature Unleashed helps elementary students understand ecosystem connections through exploring Missouri’s ponds, forests, and prairies inside and outside the classroom. 

Nature Unhooked

Nature Unhooked (Grades 6-8)

Nature Unhooked covers all elements of aquatic ecosystems, from the properties of water molecules to the diversity of aquatic life, and how we conserve and enjoy Missouri’s aquatic ecosystems.

Nature Unbound cover

Nature Unbound (Grades 9-12)

Nature Unbound  helps high school students understand the impact of ecology on Missouri and the world through activities that get students outdoors and exploring around their school.