kids lookin at nature held by tacoma nature center employee

In our 70-acre “classroom,” students discover nature and science in a hands-on, interactive environment.

Under your leadership or through a guided tour, The Tacoma Nature Center experience can help students develop a connection with and appreciation for the natural world.

Field Trips & Outreach Brochure


Field Investigations (Field Trips)

Fees, Group Size, Reservation and Program Info

Field investigations at The Tacoma Nature Center and the Adriana Hess Audubon Center in University Place provide opportunities for learning about wetlands, watersheds, wildlife and other areas of nature study. These popular field trip programs are ideally suited for single classes to provide quality, small group experiences.

All field trip program slots for the 2019-2020 school year are now full. Field trip reservations for the 2020-21 school year will be taken beginning July 20, 2020.

Group Size and Fees
A ratio of one adult for every seven students (1:7) is required for field investigations (1:4 for children under 6).

Field Trip Fees

  • $6 per person
  • Teachers and chaperones are free.
  • Siblings and other extra participants over 2 years old are discouraged and are charged the regular fee.

Group Sizes

  • Minimum
    10 participants
    Groups under 10 participants are charged $60
  • Maximum
    The Tacoma Nature Center – 30 participants
    Titlow Beach, Tacoma – 50 participants

Program Information
All programs have an outdoor component and participants should come dressed for the weather.

  • Group leaders may download information packets with activities for the classroom and field journals to copy for the students.
  • Programs requested that are not on the menu are subject to approval and are assessed a $50 off-menu fee.
  • Increase learning! Each program has a linked classroom investigation (outreach program). Increase your students’ learning by booking both a pre-trip classroom program and a field trip today!
  • The Tacoma Nature Center loan policy for educational items is found at the bottom of this webpage.

Booking your field trip
We often become fully booked months in advance for the most desirable times. Contact us early and have several date options available.

  • A $60 non-refundable deposit is required to book each program. We accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards, checks and cash. The deposit is applied to the total cost of the field trip. The balance is due the day of the program in one lump payment. Purchase orders are also accepted and the program is invoiced the next day.

Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

Little Explorers: Furry Friends
Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
1.5 hours $6.00 per student

Through interactive play, a fun mask to make, and outdoor exploration, children discover what makes a mammal a mammal and how we are mammals too!

Little Explorers: Pond Critters
Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
1.5 hours $6.00 per student

Take a close-up look at the wet and wild animals that call Snake Lake home with stories, outdoor play, and a visit with a turtle or toad.

Grades K - 2

Life in a Pond
The Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
2 hours $6.00 per student

Learn which animals use wetland habitats while exploring with a guide. Students are encouraged to observe and describe the characteristics of these special animals as they study how all parts of the animal help it to survive.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades K-1

Teacher’s Packet

Creepy Crawlies
The Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
2 hours $6.00 per student

Think like a bug and explore the world of invertebrates through an interactive program. Learn about the life cycles and characteristics of insects.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades 1-2

Teacher’s Packet

Grades 3-6

Wetland Wonders
The Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
2 hours $6.00 per student

Visit a wetland habitat to see what lives there and learn about the adaptations the animals have for survival. Then, look closer using microscopes to classify and sort the smallest creatures.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades 3

Teacher’s Packet

Forest Fun
The Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
2 hours $6.00 per student

Explore the many plants and animals that live in a forest habitat and learn how each part depends on others. Investigate how people depend on the forest and take a look at related jobs.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades 4

Teacher’s Packet

Water Sleuths (Grades 5-6 only)
The Tacoma Nature Center, max. 30
2 – 2.5 hours $6.00 per student

Discover how systems connect as students investigate a wetland habitat, then search out the links between human activity and watershed quality. Students use technology to gather data on the watershed and draw conclusions about its quality.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades 5

Teacher’s Packet

Titlow Beach Exploration
Titlow Beach, max. 46
1.5 hours $6.00 per student

During the low tides of spring, explore the intertidal zone and marine life of the beach in teams utilizing nature study tools and discovery sheets.

State Common Core Aligned for Grades 5

Teacher’s Packet Titlow Checklist

Older students/Adult learners?
We can easily adapt any of the 3rd-6th grade programs to suit your needs without an off-menu fee. If you have other topics in mind, just contact us to discuss the options.

Classroom Investigations and Outreach Programs

We’ll bring our programs to you! Our classroom investigations allow students to get a close-up view of nature in the convenience of the classroom.

Classroom Investigations

Fees, Group Size, Reservation and Program Info


  • Programs last approximately one hour.
  • Preschool groups have more options, see below.
  • Programs should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance by calling (253) 591-6439.
  • Due to the hands-on nature of the inquiries, we are only able to work with one classroom per time slot.
  • Discounted prices are offered for additional inquiries on the same day at the same site.

$90 for first in-school session
$60 for each additional session*
Programs requested that are not on the menu are subject to approval and are assessed a $50.00 off-menu fee.
*Booked for the same day at the same location

Programs are available anywhere in the Puget Sound region, however additional charges apply for any programs booked beyond the normal service radius.

  • Any outreach programs located beyond 15 miles round trip from the Tacoma Nature Center are charged a minimum $25 surcharge.
  • Charges increase as the distance increases.
  • Additionally, any bridge tolls or other transportation related fees are charged to the contract.
  • Call for a quote for your location.

Preschool Programs (Ages 3-5)

These new classroom inquiries allow students to get a close-up view of nature in the convenience of the classroom and schoolyard. These interactive programs use nature discovery to teach math and science literacy.

In order to suit the needs of young children, these programs are available with several different time options: 30, 45 or 60 minute options.

Two 30 minute programs qualify for the one-hour fee of $90 provided they are scheduled back-to-back.

  • Backyard Birds – What makes a bird a bird? Students learn about unique characteristics of birds and discover which birds visit their schoolyard.
  • Colorful Seasons – Students use their senses to explore the current season.

Habitat is Where It's At (Grades K-6)

Students learn about the components of habitat and what wildlife needs to survive in this highly interactive program. Also included is a survey of 3 common Washington habitat types.

City Critters (Grades K-3)

Not all wildlife lives in the wild. Many species have successfully adapted to humans and urban conditions. Students examine a number of our city dwellers through interactive stations and learn why they are thriving.

Wildlife (Grades 3-6 or older)

There is a great diversity of life in Washington. Join us in a brief survey of some of the more common wildlife species found here. Explore some of the adaptations they have for survival and investigate some of the problems facing wildlife today.

*This program can easily be adapted for older students or adult learners with no additional fee.

Tacoma Nature Center Loan Policy

The Tacoma Nature Center loans certain items to educators and educational institutions for the purposes of nature education. To borrow items from the Tacoma Nature Center collection borrowers must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Borrowers must fill out a Tacoma Nature Center loan form in person at the Tacoma Nature Center. The Tacoma Nature Center needs one point of contact, and this individual is the “Borrower”.
  • The borrower must be the individual who picks up the borrowed items, who fills out the loan form, and who returns the items to the Tacoma Nature Center.
  • The borrower is liable for any damage to the borrowed items.
  • Borrowers should inquire a minimum of one week in advance of borrowing items from the Tacoma Nature Center collection.
  • Depending on the Tacoma Nature Center’s program needs, the borrower may keep the borrowed items in their possession for up to two weeks. There must be a mutually agreeable item-return date within the allotted 2 week timeframe. If items are not returned by the return date borrowing privileges will be suspended.
  • The Tacoma Nature Center does not loan bird specimens, delicate skulls, or one of a kind items. Borrowers may inquire about specific items available for loan by calling the Tacoma Nature Center at (253) 404-3930 or emailing Lauren Bentson at