Environmental Education 


Since its establishment in 1972, the refuge has worked with area educators to provide educational opportunities for their students. Our programs provide teachers with the information, skills, and resources to incorporate the environment into their curriculum and to utilize the Refuge as an outdoor classroom. Students connect with nature by engaging in hands-on activities. 

John Heinz NWR supports area educators & students in a variety of ways, including school partner programs, Ranger-led lessons, teacher workshops, and self-guided curriculum & materials. The Philly Nature Kids environmental education program is a partnership between John Heinz NWR and John M. Patterson Elementary School and Penrose School. Refuge staff and classroom teachers work together to provide the entire 4th grade with a full year of inquiry-based and inclusive curriculum that culminates in student-designed environmental action projects.

The refuge is also a free field trip destination with access to lesson plans and science resources. Educators are also welcome to borrow materials, like Loan Boxes to supplement nature study in their own location. All refuge curriculum is based in Pennsylvania Academic Standards. 

Field Trips

Field trips to the refuge are free and typically self-guided. Depending on selected dates, rangers may be available to lead a refuge introduction or additional programming. Due to the high demand of our free field trip visits and limited space, all educators and group leaders are required to schedule their group's trip in advance with refuge staff. Even if you are visiting with a group on your own, please inform our staff! Daily group maximums are in place to prevent disturbance to wildlife.

To prepare for field trips to the refuge, please review the Lesson Listing below to request an inquiry-based lesson plan. Teachers can prepare for their visit by reviewing the Field Trip Guide below. 
Teacher-Led lESSON pLANS 


To schedule field trips, email Environmental Education Supervisor, Kelly Kemmerle, at kelly_kemmerle@fws.gov with school or organization name, grade level, and number of students or call 215-365-3118 for more information. 
scheduling your visit

Homeschool Resources 

Homeschool families/groups are welcome to visit John Heinz NWR and encouraged to view it as an extension of their home classrooms. A number of resources are available for use by educators both on and off refuge. For more information contact Meagan at meagan_mendoza@fws.gov or 215-365-3118.

Loan Box

The refuge maintains two educational loan boxes, Mammals of Pennsylvania and Birds of Pennsylvania.  Each can be borrowed free of charge by area educators, scout groups, and homeschool co-ops.

Boxes may be borrowed for up to two weeks at a time and must be picked up from the refuge during normal business hours. Only one box per educator can be borrowed at a time. To request a box, email Meagan at meagan_mendoza@fws.gov. Requests are fulfilled in the order in which they are received.