Field Trips

Springfield Conservation Nature Center

The Springfield Conservation Nature Center (CNC), an 80-acre slice of the Ozarks outdoors within the city limits of Springfield, is a place to connect with nature and learn the importance of conservation. Enjoy three miles of walking trails; educational and informative programs and events; and nature and conservation exhibits.

The visitor center features an information desk where visitors learn about the facility and the schedule of programs. The building includes a self-guided exhibit area, a gift shop, a 150-seat auditorium, classrooms, and restrooms. Pull-through bus and RV parking is available. Camping, hunting, fishing, and bicycling, as well as pets, are not allowed on the grounds.

Find out more about the nature center, including directions, maps, and building hours.

Springfield CNC

What to Expect at the Nature Center

At the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, you will find a variety of free programs developed for school-aged children.

Programs are designed to create an outdoor connection and incorporate Missouri Learning Standards. Dress for the weather as most programs include a guided hike.

Can’t visit the nature center? All of the programs listed below can be offered at your location in February and March, with the exception of three programs: Grade 2: Trees Please, Grade 2: Super Seeds, and Grade 3: Habitat Hike.

Scheduling a Program

To schedule a program with our naturalists, call 417-888-4237 or email SprfdNatureCenter@mdc.mo.gov.

In-Person Programs

Grade Pre-K

Fantastic Fish

Have you ever gone fishing or seen fish swimming in a stream or lake? Come learn about Missouri fish and explore their underwater lives.

Spider Safari

Discover the mysterious life of these eight-legged, web-spinning creatures.

Butterfly Magic

Learn about the magical change from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly.

Season Explore

How do temperature and other seasonal changes affect plants and animals? Leaves changing color, animals storing food, building nests or dens, and raising young are all signs of a new season. Let’s explore!

Skin, Scales, Feathers, and Fur

Whether it is furry, slimy, scaly, or covered with feathers, an animal’s body covering helps it survive. Learn all about different animal coverings in this fun and educational program.

Snake Slither

Snakes are some of nature’s most misunderstood animals. Discover the fascinating life and characteristics of these mysterious reptiles, and learn why they are important to have around.

Grades K–1

Skin, Scales, Feathers, and Fur

Whether it is slimy, scaly, furry, or covered with feathers, an animal’s body covering helps it to survive. Learn all about different animal coverings in this fun and educational program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.D, 1.LS1.A.1, 1.LS3.B

Season Explore

How do temperature and other seasonal changes affect plants and animals? Leaves changing colors, storing food, building nests or dens, and raising young are all signs of a new season. Let’s explore!

Missouri Learning Standards: K.PS3.A.1, K.ESS2.D.1, K.ESS2.E.1, 1.PS3.A.1

Discover Habitats

Students will explore and discover how plants and animals live in neighborhoods or habitats just like people do.

Missouri Learning Standards: K.ESS3.A.1

Animals in Winter

How does that bullfrog, squirrel, or bird get through a cold winter? Space heaters? Hot soup from the deli? Find out the unique ways animals survive winter.

Missouri Learning Standards: K.ESS2.E.1, K.ESS2.D.1, 1.PS3.A.1, 1.LS1.D

Grade 2

Amazing Amphibians

Amphibians go through fascinating life stages. This program will focus on the three groups of amphibians found in Missouri and their processes of metamorphosis.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1

Creepy Crawly Critters

A look at the diversity, lifecycles, and adaptations of nature’s most numerous and misunderstood creatures.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1, 3.LS3.B.1

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.A.1, 3.LS3.C.1

Trees Please

Students will learn that trees, like animals, have requirements for life and compete with other trees to get what they need to survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 2.LS2.A.1

Super Seeds

Seeds may be small, but they are very important! This program includes seed shape, parts, and a seed-seeking hike.

Missouri Learning Standards: 2.LS2.A.1, 2.LS2.A.2

Grade 3

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.A.1, 3.LS3.C.1

The Game of Life

Habitat components, limiting factors, and the dynamic balance of nature will all be included in this fun, educational program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS3.C.1, 3.LS3.D.1

Habitat Hike

Students will take a guided hike on the nature center trails to learn how different ecosystems support different types of plants and animals.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS3.C.1, 3.LS3.D.1

Amazing Amphibians

Amphibians go through fascinating life stages. This program will focus on the three groups of amphibians found in Missouri and their processes of metamorphosis.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1

Just Like Lewis and Clark (two programs)

How Native Americans Used Bison

Students will learn how Native Americans used all parts of the bison and about conservation efforts to preserve the species.

Hunting and Trapping: Then and Now

We will explore how the Lewis and Clark Expedition survived, compared to modern practices.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.H.3a.A, 3.H.3a.F

Grade 4

Food Chains

Look closely and watch the flow of nutrients and energy from one organism to another. Students will learn how to identify food chains.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.LS2.B.1

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS3.C.1, 4.LS1.A.1

Trees Please

Available April through November

What is a tree? How does it grow? What does it need to survive? Answer these questions and more in this program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS3.B.1, 4.LS1.A.1

Vertebrate Challenge

Students will learn how to classify the five different vertebrate classes in this interactive program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 4.LS1.A.1, 5.LS1.A.1

Grades 5–12

Bird Adaptations

Let’s dive into the anatomy, morphology, and behavioral characteristics of birds. We will discuss migration, nesting, camouflage, and bird decline.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.LS1.A.1, 6-8.LS1.B.1, 6-8.LS1.B.2, 9-12.LS4.C.2

Habitat Hike

Students will take a guided hike on the nature center trails to learn about how different ecosystems support different types of plants and animals.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.LS1.C.1, 5.LS2.B.1, 6-8.LS2.C.1, 6-9.LS2.C.2, 9-12.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS4.C.1, 9-12.LS4.C.2

Tree ID

Available April through November

In this hands-on approach to tree identification, students will learn to identify at least five Missouri trees based on various fundamental characteristics.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.LS1.C.1, 6-8.LS1.B.1, 6-8.LS1.B.2

The Living Lake

A survey of the living organisms in an aquatic environment focusing on each creature’s role as an indicator of water quality. Includes an introduction to basic water chemistry.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.PS3.D.1, 6-8.LS1.B.2, 6-8.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS2.B.2

Missouri Underground

Students will learn about different karst features, such as caves, springs, and sinkholes found in Missouri, and how they are formed.

Missouri Learning Standards: 4.ESS1.C.1, 4.ESS2.A.1, 5.ESS2.A.1, 6-8.ESS2.A.2

Wildlife Management

Students will find out what was done to bring back Missouri’s deer, turkey, and other struggling populations. We will also discuss current wildlife issues and how they are addressed.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.ESS3.C.1, 6-8.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS2.A.1, 9-12.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS2.C.2

All Ages

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians are often confused with each other. This program will focus on the separate species of each group and feature live specimens.

Missouri Mammals

An overview of the various mammals that make Missouri home. We will discuss their characteristics, behaviors, and preferred habitats.

Missouri Snakes

Snakes are some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures. This program will focus on the fascinating characteristics of Missouri snakes and dispel several myths associated with these reptiles.

Nocturnal Animals

Missouri is home to many nocturnal animals. Learn about the special adaptations and characteristics that help them survive the night.

Outdoor Hazards

Improve your outdoor experience by learning how to avoid outdoor hazards such as stinging insects, poison ivy, venomous animals, and dangerous weather.

Virtual Programs

Grade Pre-K

Spider Safari

Discover the mysterious life of these eight-legged, web-spinning creatures.

Butterfly Magic

Learn about the magical change from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly.

Skin, Scales, Feathers, and Fur

Whether it is furry, slimy, scaly, or covered with feathers, an animal’s body covering helps it survive. Learn all about different animal coverings in this fun and educational program.

Snake Slither

Snakes are some of nature’s most misunderstood animals. Discover the fascinating life and characteristics of these mysterious reptiles, and learn why they are important to have around.

Grades K–1

Skin, Scales, Feathers, and Fur

Whether it is slimy, scaly, furry, or covered with feathers, an animal’s body covering helps it to survive. Learn all about different animal coverings in this fun and educational program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.D, 1.LS1.A.1, 1.LS3.B

Discover Habitats

Students will explore and discover how plants and animals live in neighborhoods or habitats just like people do.

Missouri Learning Standards: K.ESS3.A.1

Animals in Winter

How does that bullfrog, squirrel, or bird get through a cold winter? Space heaters? Hot soup from the deli? Find out the unique ways animals survive winter.

Missouri Learning Standards: K.ESS2.E.1, K.ESS2.D.1, 1.PS3.A.1, 1.LS1.D

Grade 2

Amazing Amphibians

Amphibians go through fascinating life stages. This program will focus on the three groups of amphibians found in Missouri and their processes of metamorphosis.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1

Creepy Crawly Critters

A look at the diversity, lifecycles, and adaptations of nature’s most numerous and misunderstood creatures.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1, 3.LS3.B.1

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.A.1, 3.LS3.C.1

Grade 3

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 1.LS1.A.1, 3.LS3.C.1

Amazing Amphibians

Amphibians go through fascinating life stages. This program will focus on the three groups of amphibians found in Missouri and their processes of metamorphosis.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS1.B.1

Grade 4

Adaptations

Students will learn about different physical and behavioral characteristics of plants and animals that help them survive.

Missouri Learning Standards: 3.LS3.C.1, 4.LS1.A.1

Vertebrate Challenge

Students will learn how to classify the five different vertebrate classes in this interactive program.

Missouri Learning Standards: 4.LS1.A.1, 5.LS1.A.1

Grades 5–12

Bird Adaptations

Let’s dive into the anatomy, morphology, and behavioral characteristics of birds. We will discuss migration, nesting, camouflage, and bird decline.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.LS1.A.1, 6-8.LS1.B.1, 6-8.LS1.B.2, 9-12.LS4.C.2

Missouri Underground

Students will learn about different karst features, such as caves, springs, and sinkholes found in Missouri, and how they are formed.

Missouri Learning Standards: 4.ESS1.C.1, 4.ESS2.A.1, 5.ESS2.A.1, 6-8.ESS2.A.2

Wildlife Management

Students will find out what was done to bring back Missouri’s deer, turkey, and other struggling populations. We will also discuss current wildlife issues and how they are addressed.

Missouri Learning Standards: 5.ESS3.C.1, 6-8.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS2.A.1, 9-12.LS2.C.1, 9-12.LS2.C.2

All Ages

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians are often confused with each other. This program will focus on the separate species of each group and feature live specimens.

Missouri Mammals

An overview of the various mammals that make Missouri home. We will discuss their characteristics, behaviors, and preferred habitats.

Missouri Snakes

Snakes are some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures. This program will focus on the fascinating characteristics of Missouri snakes and dispel several myths associated with these reptiles.

Nocturnal Animals

Missouri is home to many nocturnal animals. Learn about the special adaptations and characteristics that help them survive the night.

Outdoor Hazards

Improve your outdoor experience by learning how to avoid outdoor hazards such as stinging insects, poison ivy, venomous animals, and dangerous weather.