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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
@ Schools and GroupsSchools and Home Schools


Educational Programs for Schools and Home-schools

Classes taught August – April: no programs available in May.

How to Plan Your Trip:

  • Read through the descriptions below and pick your field trip options, or download the Academic Guide here.
  • Download the School Reservation Request Form here and email it to kmastin@ashevillenc.gov or fax it to 828-298-2644. If you do not have access to internet or a fax machine, then please call the center at (828) 259-8080 between the hours of 9-5 and ask to speak to someone in the education department.

  • If any student has a special need and/or needs special assistance, please indicate at the time of scheduling.

  • A reservation is required to guarantee group rates. 

  • Schools/groups pay in advance of their arrival (see Payment below).

Academic Group Admission Fees:

Home School groups (10 or more children with reservation) for Self Guided Tour:
  • Asheville City Home School (preK-12th grade) $3.95 + 7% state sales tax, per student or adult
  • Non-Asheville Resident Home School $4.95 + 7% state sales tax, per student or adult
Public & Private Schools (10 or more children with reservation) for Self Guided Tour:
  •  Asheville City School (preschool-12th grade) $3.95 + 7% state sales tax, per student or adult
  • Non-Asheville School $4.95 + 7% state sales tax, per student or adult
  • School teachers, teacher assistants, and bus drivers free
Scheduled Educational Programs (add this to the Admission Fee above, no tax on educational programming)
  • $1 per program per student and/or adult chaperone

Guided Programs:

Discovery Programs: Interactive Nature Experiences in 30-minutes

1. Snakes and Turtles
Grade Level:  K – 12th grade - NC Essential Standards: see chart below for Competency Goals
A hands-on session of exploration and fun for students to see and touch live reptiles. Learn the similarities and differences between common native reptiles.  Reptile ecology, biology and appreciation will be the primary objectives in class discussion with an opportunity to explore the display table at the conclusion of the program.  

2. Down on the Farm
Grade Level:  K – 4th grade - NC Essential Standards: see chart below for Competency Goals
While exploring the Educational Farm, students will use their senses to discover the sights, sounds, and smells of a farm.  They will also learn differences between groups of animals, classification, and the common use and products of farm animals. Classes will examine feedstuffs (grains), learn about milk, explore human culture relating to the domestication of animals, and discover what wool feels and smells like at our hands-on stations, with time to explore the wonders of the petting area after your program.  

3. Nature At Night
Grade Level:  2nd - 6th grade - NC Essential Standards: see chart below forCompetency Goals
Nature doesn’t go to sleep at night so take an adventure as students learn methods of exploring nature at night.  Explore unique survival adaptations of nocturnal creatures such as camouflage, sound, sight, echolocation, migrations, and how they survive human impacts and natural disasters. Though we do not have live bats, we will present live animals in class for an interactive approach to learning. 

4. Forest Sounds
Grade Level: 1 - 5th grade -  NC Essential Standards: see chart below for Competency Goals
Our sense of sight is so very demanding on our feeling of security, we often fear things we hear and can’t see.  Our discovery into the world of forest sounds opens up a new realm of curiosity for children.  By learning the reasons animals make different sounds, the seasonal timing of them, and what these things indicate about our forest, we begin to understand another dimension of our incredible mountains.

5. Wild Tales
Grade Level:  K – 1st grade - NC Essential Standards: see chart below for Competency Goals
Animals have been part of stories and myths throughout history.  In some cultures, stories are the primary forms of education.  Today, storytelling provides a creative way for students to connect to the natural world and for them to use their imagination.  Gather around the fireplace in the log cabin and explore some traditional stories and myths using some live animals.

6. Masters of Metamorphosis
Grade Level: K – 2nd grade - NC Essential Standards: see chart below for Competency Goals
Kids are fascinated by growing up.  “Who’s more grown up?  When will I be all grown up?”  Metamorphosis is a special way some animals grow up.  Children will meet a live animal, role play the life cycle of a butterfly, and turn a play dough tadpole into a frog.  Students will learn that metamorphosis is unique to amphibians and insects and how these animals help people.

Investigation Programs: Hands-on Animal Science in 60-minutes

1. Wild About Wildlife Guided Tour
Grade Level:  1st - 12th grade - NC Essential Standards: see page 8 Competency Goals
This outdoor program with an experienced guide will give students an opportunity to learn more about native wild animals as they tour animal habitats and visit the fox, raccoon, cougar, bobcat, coyote, and wolf habitats.  Natural science concepts such as behavioral adaptations, food chains, communication and other survival techniques will be covered. 

2. Crafting A Habitat
Grade Level: K - 1st - NC Essential Standards: KL1.1, KL1.2, 1L1.1, 1L1.2, 1L2.2
Take an adventure as students learn about animal habitats. Explore unique survival adaptations of nocturnal & diurnal creatures such as burrowing, nest making, cave dwelling, as well as migration. Small group dynamics will incorporate habitat design, essential survival ingredients, and creativity. Come prepared to challenge your students in this indoor/outdoor experience.

3. Life Cycles
Grade Level: 2nd -  NC Essential Standards: 2E1.1, 2E1.3, 2L1.1, 2L1.2, 2l2.1, 2L2.2
Explore the unique adaptations of animal life cycles including reptiles, amphibians, insects, and mammals. Follow our instructors from egg production through to maturity and discover how metamorphosis challenges their daily existence. Students will gain an understanding of energy flows, consumerism, and trophic levels. Mini-stations will allow participants an up close view of Appalachian species and their fight for survival in our mountains.

4. Locomotion: Anatomy and Physiology
Grade Level: 3rd - NC Essential Standards: 3P1.3, 3P2.2, 3P2.3, 3L1.1, 3L1.2, 3L2.1
To survive in any environment, one must adapt to its demands of weather, topography, and food/water/shelter availability. This course will enhance the students understanding of how animals use their bodies and their surroundings to find their “life-essentials”. Discussion on anatomy and physiology of the animal kingdom will include some comparison with the human body. Live animal presentations and observation will encourage students to view animals in a new light of discovery.

5. Avian Attributes
Grade Level: 4th - NC Essential Standards: 4L1.1, 4L1.2, 4L1.3, 4L1.4
We will use the world of birds to explore how animals adjust to their environment.  Students will observe the behavior of a live raptor then design a bird using play parts.  Survival is the name of the game and it is the same for humans.  Can we adapt to change as well as birds?

6. Zoo Ecosystems
Grade Level: 5th - NC Essential Standards: 5P1.2, 5L2.1, 5L2.2, 5L2.3, 5L3.1
It might be a challenge to provide a suitable habitat for a non-native species of animal brought from another continent to North Carolina. Here at the Nature Center, we have only indigenous species, those that are native to our ecosystem.  How do we recreate a habitat that an animal will adjust to and feel comfortable in?  Groups will challenge each other with their creativity and design of new animal habitats once they learn the basic needs of their chosen species. Group discussion, participation, and public speaking are a part of this wonderful program.

Self Guided Tours

Our 43-acre facility houses more than 150 animals native to the mountains of North Carolina, our beloved Appalachians. During a self guided tour, you can explore the Nature Center at your own pace and use our animals and facilities to meet your own educational goals.  Sketch the cougars, practice map reading skills, go on an animal alphabet search, or just have fun exploring! We also offer two short, free public programs each day on an animal topic open to all visitors, one at 11:30 am and the other at 2:30 pm.  

We have additional materials available to assist teachers and leaders during you’re a self guided visit:

1. Scavenger Hunts 
Grade Level: 1st – 12th grade
Age-appropriate scavenger hunt packets encourage students to search for clues and answer questions concerning each group of animals. The “Scavenger Hunt” packets are sent to teachers who then make copies of the packet for their students prior to coming to the center.  Bring pencils and clipboards for your students.

2. “Ed-venture” Packs
Grade Level: 5th grade
5th Grade teachers are encouraged to reserve our new teacher-led weather packs.  We have assembled courier bags with various weather instruments including a wind meter, compass, sling psychrometer, and soil thermometer.  The instruments correspond with activities targeting 5th grade science objectives under the NC Standard Course of Study.  
By using these instruments, students will begin to recognize weather elements and think in terms of “earth system science”.  We have produced short instructional videos to share with your students explaining the different instruments and how they work.  Both of these videos (“Ed-Venture Pack Part 1” and “… Part 2”) can be viewed on our YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/wncnaturecenter). 
One pack can be utilized for an average class size. The pack contents were provided by a grant from REI and there is no charge for their use.  Regular group admission rates apply to those planning to use the packs on our grounds.

3. “Wild Child” Backpacks
Is your child a “Wild Child”?  We have new backpacks loaded with tools for exploration of our grounds.  These are available to the general public to check out as a family and can be especially valuable to homeschoolers.  Packs include such things as thermometers, monoculars, hand lenses, colored pencils, field guides, etc.  All of the items correspond with six different activities in an activity book specially created for the packs.  Leave your driver’s license as collateral when you sign out a pack at the front desk.  The pack contents were provided by a grant from REI and are free to check out for use on our grounds.  Regular admission rates apply.

Offsite Programs

Fur, Feathers, and Scales
Grade Level:  Kindergarten – 6th grade
Program Length: 45 minutes 
An opportunity for students to learn the importance of preservation and conservation through a one-hour presentation (45-minute presentation/15-minute Q&A) with a live snake and turtle, animal skeletons, skins, feathers, skulls and more.  Students have a chance to interact closely with live native animals and touch the many samples on the display table.

Special Programs: Teachers may also request a specific topic of discovery for their class.  

Offsite Program Fees:
Nature Center staff will bring select programs to classrooms in Buncombe County at 
$300.00 per 45-minute session (M-F, 9:00am – 3:00pm) 
$375.00 per 90-minute session (M-F, 9:00am – 3:00pm) and
$450.00 per 45-minute session pre/post hours (M-F, before 9:00am & after 3:00pm, including Saturdays and Sundays)

Outside of Buncombe County, our program fees are 
$400.00 per 45-minute session (M-F, 9:00am – 3:00pm) 
$475.00 per 90-minute session (M-F, 9:00am – 3:00pm) and
$550.00 per 45-minute session pre/post hours (M-F, before 9:00am & after 3:00pm, including Saturdays and Sundays)
NOTE: Offsite programs are available year-round, but are limited in September, October, March and April due to the large number of groups visiting the Nature Center during this time. 


  • Full payment is due fourteen days prior to the scheduled reserved arrival date. One non-refundable payment for the entire group must be made for both students and adult parent chaperones. Teachers, teacher assistants, and bus drivers of private and public schools are given free admission
  • Payments are accepted as check or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Make check payable to the WNC Nature Center. An Invoice will be included with your Reservation Confirmation. Teachers will be notified of their payment status prior to arrival via email.
  • Any adult wishing to pay directly at the door on the day of arrival will be charged the full admission fee of $10.95/person.  If the lead teacher collects payment from all the adults and submits this payment on check-in, chaperones receive the discounted rate described above.
  • The Nature Center will remain open rain or shine. Have your students dress appropriately. Should the WNC Nature Center close during your scheduled event for any reason, we will reschedule your event or reimburse your organization in full.
  • Nature Center Family Memberships or any other affiliated zoo memberships are not valid with a group reservation or school reservation.  

If a group must cancel a scheduled visit, please call the Nature Center at least 14 days prior to the scheduled arrival.  A service fee of $50.00 will be applied to all cancellations less than 14 days from reserved arrival date. The Nature Center remains open rain or shine. When cancelling, please speak directly to a Nature Center staff person or email the information to kmastin@ashevillenc.gov. Call (828) 259-8082 between 8-9 am to cancel. 

North Carolina Competency Goals for Discovery Programs














~ WNC Nature Center ~ 75 Gashes Creek Road ~ Asheville ~ NC 28805 ~
Phone (828) 259-8080


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