Environmental Education Programs
at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex) offers free educational opportunities for all ages at Sacramento and Colusa NWRs. Please contact staff for special accommodations or to tailor a program for your educational group (college, adults, scouts, etc.).

To receive free admission for students and reserve an activity, the registration form must be received at least 2 weeks in advance and can be submitted starting on August 10. Please fill out a separate form for each day you plan to visit. Vehicle entrance passes/confirmations will be mailed beginning in mid-October. Without the registration form, vehicle passes and activities will not be reserved. To help accommodate all groups, please contact the Complex as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule.

Programs are available Tuesday through Friday and on limited Saturdays. The Complex can have up to 2 naturalists available to lead activities during the week. Each Complex-led program has a maximum of 35 students per group unless you contact the Complex prior to arrival. Many large groups need to be split into 3 smaller groups due to their size. In this case, please plan to rotate through activities and have a group leader to lead each activity. We recommend a maximum of 70 students per trip and having a 10:1 student to adult ratio. This allows the students to have the best experience possible.

*Transportation grants are available, contact the refuge for information.



Available for Grades 1-3: Chompers and Stompers, Nature’s Nests, Wetland Walk, & Auto Tour
Available for Grades 3-4: Migration Madness, Discovery Room, Wetland Walk, & Auto Tour
Available for Grades 5-6: Who Am I?, Migration Madness, Discovery Room, Wetlands, Waterfowl and Refuges, Wetland Walk, & Auto Tour
Available for Grades 7 & up: Biological Management, Wetland Walk, & Auto Tour


Sacramento NWRC Educational Program Details

GL = Program can also be led by your group leader or teacher;  R = Program led by Refuge staff
Wetland Walk (at least 45 min, any age, R or GL) Walk on an accessible trail next to a wetland and learn how to use your observation skills to discover the types of animals that live in the Refuge and the importance of wetlands. Learn how to use binoculars. Typically a .5 mile walk.
Who Am I? (45 min, grades 5-6, R) Find out which endangered and threatened animals and plants call the Complex home and how people have affected them in a positive and negative way.
Auto Tour (1-1.5 hr, any age, GL only) Drive the Sacramento NWR’s 6-mile auto tour and view the awe inspiring flocks of waterfowl that migrate to the Refuge. Best viewing of large flocks is from Nov – Feb. Typically takes 1.5 hours with lunch/stop at the viewing platform. Colusa NWR’s 3-mile tour is also available.
Discovery Room (45 min, grades 3-6, R or GL) Visit the Sacramento NWR’s diorama and wildlife exhibits. Get an introduction to waterfowl and how they compare and contrast by examining mounts, wings, skulls, and more. 

Chompers and Stompers (45 min, grades 1-3, R) Do birds have the same beaks or feet? Why or why not?  Students will learn through a hands-on activity about the “tools” birds use to help them survive in their environment.

Nature’s Nests (45 min, grades 1-2, R) Learn about the lifecycle birds and their nesting process. Look at eggs and nests to determine where they live. Search for nests and the materials birds use, then build your own nest.
Biological Management (need 4.5 hrs, grade 7+, R) The students become refuge biologists as they split into groups to learn about techniques used to manage waterfowl populations. Students will each get a management journal and work with staff to learn about diseases affecting waterfowl (with actual specimens), view macroinvertebrates, identify duck wings, and conduct a bird survey. This program includes the auto tour and lunch. 50 students max.
Migration Madness (45 min, grades 4-6, R) Participate in a migration while learning about the dangers along the route. Map the migration path of snow geese and learn how biologists track them.
Adult Groups: Contact the refuge to get a general talk by staff tailored to your group.
Available for Scout Groups: Wetland Walk, Auto Tour, Migration Madness, Girl Scouts can do some of the activities on-site to earn the “In the Flyway” Badge


For a reservation application, helpful tips, and grade specific activities visit the Environmental Education page.