Outdoor Education

Students dipnetting at Hillman Marsh

The following is about our Conservation Area group programs.

 Click here to go to the Teen Ranger Program page.

ERCA believes that the students of today are the environmental stewards of tomorrow. We offer hands-on Outdoor Education programs at several conservation areas as field trips.  In some cases, we can come to your classroom for in-class courses and presentations. All of our Education Programs are tailored to fit each grade level (K-12) and to meet the Ontario Curriculum for Science, Social Studies, History and Geography, and more!

NEW! Specialist High Skills Major Training and Certifications: We are pleased to offer 21 new experiential training and certification courses for Specialist High Skills Major programs. Download our complete SHSM Programs Brochure for details and program descriptions.

Conservation Field Studies are available in spring and fall at the significant wetlands of Hillman Marsh Conservation Area.  In autumn, programs are also offered at Carolinian forests of Kopegaron Woods and for the Hawk Migration at Holiday Beach Conservation Area (Holiday Beach is available until Thanksgiving). Full and half day programs are available.

Elementary School Conservation Field Studies Programs:

  • Bird and butterfly binocular hikes
  • Dipnetting for pond and marsh critters, log-life catching
  • Forest life cycles, habitat and watershed ecosystem
  • Habitats and watershed ecosystem exploration
  • An orienteering course with map and compass activities
  • Solar car experiments and energy conservation
  • Rocks and soil erosion activities and experiments
  • Animals and plant characteristics and survival
  • Hawk Migration (Holiday Beach, until Thanksgiving)

NEW! Curriculum-based High School Conservation Field Studies programs are now available for Biology and Environmental Science courses! Click here to download the High School Water Quality program flyer or contact Jessica Rose, OCT at jrose@erca.org or by phone at 519-776-5209 ext. 308 for additional information.

Heritage Field Studies are available year-round at the John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area.  The Homestead changes its programs seasonally to ensure that each visit is unique.  The Park family’s house, barns, working kitchen and forge take you back to the mid-1800s. Visit the changing exhibit areas, gift shop and the modern visitor centre with auditorium and washrooms. The nineteen acre Conservation Area also features a shaded picnic area and nature trail. Indoor lunch rooms are available in case of bad weather. Bring your class to the Homestead to experience our local heritage. Programs are conducted by trained museum staff in period costumes. Programs are available in half day and full day formats. Hands on programs include:

  • Pioneer Participation
  • Seasonal Celebrations (including Autumn Harvest, Windsor Celebration & Spring Tonic)
  • Maple Syrup – First Taste of Spring (Feb/March)
  • Early Technologies
  • Great Lakes Shipping and Trade
  • Wetlands Lifecycles

Nature in Education Lottery:   Recognizing the budget pressures that some schools face, ERCA and its Foundation have launched the Nature in Education Lottery to assist those schools deemed financially eligible by their respective Boards to implement an environment project for a ballot.  Winners are drawn in December annually, and the prize is up to $500 to cover bussing and program costs to an ERCA Outdoor Education Program.  Download the Nature in Education Fact Sheet for more information.

Program Booking Fees:

Half day programs: $175 per group

Full day programs: $285 per group

Maximum 30 students per group.

Fill the Bus!  In most cases, we can accommodate 2 to 3 groups (60-90 students) at a time.  Save money on transportation costs by filling a bus!  Maximum one adult per five children at no additional fee.  Additional adults will be charged.   If your students have special needs, or you wish to emphasize a particular topic, please let us know in advance. Payment must be made on the day of your trip by cheque (payable to: Essex Region Conservation Authority), cash, or credit card (Debit card also available at the Homestead site). Payments not received on the day of your trip will be subject to a $25.00 administrative fee.   ERCA programs are exempt from HST.

To Book a Program:

Please contact education@erca.org

By phone:

Conservation Field Studies: 519-776-5209 ext. 308

Heritage Field Studies: 519-738-2029

You can also use our online booking form. Please provide your name, school, grade, number of students, program choice and contact information. A confirmation will be faxed to your school after a booking is made.


ERCA partners extensively with the Greater Essex County District School Board to implement the Schoolyard Greening phase of the EcoSchools Program. Through this partnership, EcoTeams have undertaken tree plantings at their schoolyards, and several have also embarked on wetland areas, prairies, and native plant gardens. Schoolyard Greening aims to look at schoolyards holistically, and to incorporate native species and natural areas with outdoor classrooms and areas for quiet reflection.  ERCA also has some grant opportunities available to assist schools with their greening projects.


Quality Assurance:

All Essex Region Conservation Authority Educators adhere to the following Policies and Procedures: