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The Ottawa County Fillmore Complex in West Olive is currently without power, impacting its ability to serve customers.

This includes the Sheriff headquarters, Clerk, Register of Deeds and Treasurer offices as well as today's inmate visits at the jail and hearings in the West Olive court. Other locations such as Holland, Grand Haven and Hudsonville are operating and providing services and hearings.

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Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

School Programs & Field Trips

We invite you and your students to join us for a journey into the great outdoors of Ottawa County Parks! Our professional naturalist guides aim to provide field trips that are enriching, positive, and memorable, giving your students tangible experiences to relate back to what is taught in your classroom. Our goals go beyond supporting your students’ learning, as we always strive to:  

  • Initiate and encourage further exploration.
  • Nurture an emotional connection with nature.
  • Advance a wider perspective of students’ sense of place in the environment.
  • Promote a greater understanding and attitude of responsible stewardship.

It would be our privilege to host you and your students on a field trip at an Ottawa County Park.

Click the link below to fill out a program request form today.

 
An educator showing a group of children lichen and fungus on a tree branch
 
  • Pre-K / Kindergarten

    Planting the Wild Garden (Fall)
    Seeds, Plants, and Trees - Who planted the forests and meadows? Explore the movements of seeds and follow plants and trees through their life cycle.

    Sleepy Animals (Winter)
    Sssh! Someone is snoozing the day away...We won’t see these nocturnal animals but we can learn all about how they are specially adapted for the dark.

    Winter Adaptations (Winter)
    Some animals migrate, and some animals hibernate. Please don’t wait to learn the great “ATES”.

    VIP’s: Very Important Pollinators (Spring)
    Bees and butterflies play an important role in every ecosystem. Discover their lifecycle and the unique ways these creatures are VIPs!

    Insect Detective (Spring)
    How many legs does a bug have? Wait...is that a spider? Let’s count to figure it out! Using nets and magnifiers we will sleuth our way to learn more about the most abundant creatures on Earth.

    Nature’s Engineers (Spring/Fall)
    Animals are made to be incredible builders. Let’s discover what special “tools” they use to make homes and find food.

    Wonderful Worms (Spring/Fall)
    One of our most requested programs! Wiggle and Woggle will introduce you to decomposers and what makes worms so wonderful.

    Habitats/Ecosystem Comparison (Spring/Fall)
    While investigating the colors, shapes, and textures of various places in the park, we will discover if these places have everything an animal needs to live there.

    Camo Critters (All Seasons)
    Now you see me! Now you don’t! Camouflage is nature’s game of hide-and-seek. How many critters can we find?

    All About Birds (All Seasons)
    What makes a bird, a bird? So much to investigate about the different feathers, beaks, and nests of these backyard buddies.

    Creature Conundrum: Fur & Feathers, Tracks & Feet (All Seasons)
    It’s an animal treasure hunt! Follow the clues to figure out who has been here.

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 1

    Habitat Discovery
    Guided by their senses and a spirit of exploration, students will explore the diversity of life in a variety of habitats, compare living and nonliving features and discover how each habitat is similar or different by learning about the various plants and animals that survive in each.

    • Wetlands
    • Forests
    • Meadows
    • Camouflage

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 2

    Habitat Discovery
    Guided by their senses and a spirit of exploration, students will explore the diversity of life in a variety of habitats, compare living and nonliving features and discover how each habitat is similar or different by learning about the various plants and animals that survive in each.

    • Wetlands
    • Forests
    • Meadows
    • Camouflage

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 3

    Living History
    An active outdoor experience that aims to engage children in seven activities that explain and demonstrate the life and times of Michigan’s fur trade. The program is set at Connor Bayou in Robinson Township, a former rendezvous location.

    • Furs in the Trade - An interactive experience that presents real furs, their value as a natural resource and why beaver was king.
    • Early Life on the Grand - Learn about the things that the early settlers and traders used and wore in their daily lives.
    • Furopoly - Trading Along the Grand: A game involving the methods used, groups involved, and materials traded in the fur trade.
    • Story Time - Engage and discuss a story of the Fur Trade.
    • The Rendezvous - Play games that the children of the Fur Trade era would have played at the rendezvous.
    • Songs of the Voyageurs - Learn to sing “Alouette” in the voyageur’s mother tongue and the importance of songs to them.
    • A Gabagouache Experience - An opportunity to experience the roles the voyageurs played as you paddle an authentic reproduction of a voyageur canoe on the Grand River.

    Living History is a four-hour program, with a lunch break. Price: $5/person


    Creature Connections & Adaptations
    Using the springboard of a featured creature, students will look at how creatures are adapted for their role in each ecosystem as well as how they are connected to other organisms around them in the food web.

    • Beavers & Wetlands
    • Woodpeckers & Forests
    • Plant Life & Meadows
    • Owls & Nocturnal Life

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series

    • Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!
    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter, students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders, and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 4

    Living History
    An active outdoor experience that aims to engage children in seven activities that explain and demonstrate the life and times of Michigan’s fur trade. The program is set at Connor Bayou in Robinson Township, a former rendezvous location.

    • Furs in the Trade - An interactive experience that presents real furs, their value as a natural resource and why beaver was king.
    • Early Life on the Grand - Learn about the things that the early settlers and traders used and wore in their daily lives.
    • Furopoly - Trading Along the Grand: A game involving the methods used, groups involved, and materials traded in the fur trade.
    • Story Time - Engage and discuss a story of the Fur Trade.
    • The Rendezvous - Play games that the children of the Fur Trade era would have played at the rendezvous.
    • Songs of the Voyageurs - Learn to sing “Alouette” in the voyageur’s mother tongue and the importance of songs to them.
    • A Gabagouache Experience - An opportunity to experience the roles the voyageurs played as you paddle an authentic reproduction of a voyageur canoe on the Grand River.

    Living History is a four-hour program, with a lunch break. Price: $5/person

    Creature Connections & Adaptations
    Using the springboard of a featured creature, students will look at how creatures are adapted for their role in each ecosystem as well as how they are connected to other organisms around them in the food web.

    • Beavers & Wetlands
    • Woodpeckers & Forests
    • Plant Life & Meadows
    • Owls & Nocturnal Life

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series

    • Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!
    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter, students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders, and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 5

    Ecosystem Investigation
    Designed as an immersive scientific investigation experience, students will unlock the secret factors influencing the life that survives in a variety of habitats. Our guides will drive the process by asking questions, ultimately helping them view their surroundings in a different light.

    • Upland Forest
    • Bottomland Forest
    • Meadow/Prairie
    • Wetland
    • Great Lakes Dunes (limited locations and group sizes)

    Grand Lady Riverboat/Ecosystem Investigation
    Experience the Grand River from the deck of the Grand Lady Riverboat! Guided by staff, students will observe features of the river and learn about watersheds. Afterward, students will investigate different habitats along the river at Grand River Park (see Ecosystem Investigation program).

    • Riverboat - River wildlife/habitat observations Grand River watersheds
    • On Land - Upland Forest, Bottomland Forest, Meadow Ecosystem Investigations

    The Grand Lady Riverboat is a three-hour minimum. Additional pricing: $500 (for boat).

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series

    • Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!
    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter, students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders, and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 6

    Ecosystem Investigation
    Designed as an immersive scientific investigation experience, students will unlock the secret factors influencing the life that survives in a variety of habitats. Our guides will drive the process by asking questions, ultimately helping them view their surroundings in a different light.

    • Upland Forest
    • Bottomland Forest
    • Meadow/Prairie
    • Wetland
    • Great Lakes Dunes (limited locations and group sizes)

    Grand Lady Riverboat/Ecosystem Investigation
    Experience the Grand River from the deck of the Grand Lady Riverboat! Guided by staff, students will observe features of the river and learn about watersheds. Afterward, students will investigate different habitats along the river at Grand River Park (see Ecosystem Investigation program).

    • Riverboat - River wildlife/habitat observations Grand River watersheds
    • On Land - Upland Forest, Bottomland Forest, Meadow Ecosystem Investigations

    The Grand Lady Riverboat is a three-hour minimum. Additional pricing: $500 (for boat).

    Eco-Vision
    Designed for large middle school groups, students will visit various stations and discover the role of both natural and human influences on different ecosystems. In the process they’ll gain insight into how these ecosystems provide us important services and how we can be good stewards of them.

    • Michigan Pine Forest
    • Invasive Species
    • Wetland Lab
    • Watersheds

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter, students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders, and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 7

    Eco-Vision
    Designed for large middle school groups, students will visit various stations and discover the role of both natural and human influences on different ecosystems. In the process they’ll gain insight into how these ecosystems provide us important services and how we can be good stewards of them.

    • Michigan Pine Forest
    • Invasive Species
    • Wetland Lab
    • Watersheds

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter, students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders, and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 8

    Eco-Vision
    Designed for large or small groups, students will visit various stations and discover the role of various natural & human influences on different ecosystems.  In the process they’ll gain insight into how these ecosystems provide us important services and how we can be good stewards of them.

    • Michigan Pine Forest
    • Invasive Species
    • Wetland Lab
    • Watersheds

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. It’s a chance to teach students about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 9

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 10

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 11

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

  • Grade 12

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology
    Residents of Ottawa County are privileged to live in close proximity to a globally unique ecosystem along the Lake Michigan coastline. Explore the freshwater Great Lakes dune ecosystem and discover the process of dune formation and ecological succession.

    Great Lakes Dune Ecology is a two-hour minimum.

    Service-Based Learning
    Service-learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer and school programming. In addition to getting students outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. Students enjoy learning about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem. Program length can be adjusted to meet your groups’ needs.

    Outdoor Adventure Series
    Incorporate additional outdoor skills into any program and give your students a true adventure!

    • Fire-building – learn the elements of fire and how to build and light one safely and effectively.
    • Orienteering – in an age of smart phones, maps and compasses are becoming lost tools. Help your students understand how to navigate without the aid of electronics!
    • Birding Basics – Students will be introduced to using binoculars and bird books along with methods for observing and identifying birds. Then they’ll either observe birds at the bird feeders (fall/winter) or go on a walk to visit birds in their habitats (spring).

    Winter Adventure!
    In winter students will adventure through the park by snowshoe, investigate animal tracks, observe birds at the feeders and discover how creatures prepare for and survive the winter season in a variety of ways.

    • Snowshoeing
    • Whose Track is That?
    • The Great “ATES” of Winter Animal Adaptations

    Additional Program Length and Fee Information

Program Length

Each topic is approximately one hour in length, unless otherwise noted. During their visit, students will rotate through activities planned for each topic. If you have additional time, we can cover additional topics. Times can also be adjusted to meet your group’s needs. If you have questions, please let us know on your request form.

Pricing

Unless otherwise noted, program fees are based on the number of Naturalist Guides required to ensure the best experience for your students.

We charge $30 for the first hour for each guide necessary and $15/guide for each additional hour. Group sizes are limited to 15 students per guide. Example: A two hour program for 16-30 students would be $90 - (30+15) x 2 = $90.

Service-based learning projects are free-of-charge.

Visiting Parks

Are you visiting an Ottawa County Parks property with your class? Here are a few tips to plan your visit:

Children on a field trip in the woods

 

  1. Please let us know you’re coming in advance by contacting us by email or phone (616) 786-4847; this helps us ensure that the park and facilities are ready for a large group.
  2. Familiarize yourself with park rules Park rules and regulations may vary by property. For example, while visitors are not allowed off trail at parks, off trail hiking and exploration is allowed at open spaces.
  3. Follow Leave No Trace principles: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
  4. Special events require a permit. Check here to see if you need a permit for the event you are planning.
  5. Do you need a facility for your visit? Ottawa County Parks has many rentable facilities