School Field Trips
Conservation Education - Focusing on science, social studies, forestry and living history, the Cradle of Forestry correlates programs to N.C. state curriculum standards and U.S. Forest Service guidelines. Each program provides an exciting hands-on activity that is educational and in an outdoor setting. Trained educators will help you “Sow Seeds of Stewardship” while accomplishing your teaching goals.
Reservations - Reservations are required for all field trips. If you have students with special needs, please let us know in advance. Please call Cindy Carpenter at (828)877-3130 to reserve your space.
•Our trained educators lead our programs
•$4.00 (use fee + program fee) per student
•$4.00 use fee per chaperone
•1 adult in free for every 10 students
•Free for youth 15 and under
•$4.00 for 16 years old and older
•$4.00 use fee per chaperone
•1 adult is free for every 10 students
Checks should be made out to: USDA Forest Service.
Lunch - Pink Beds Picnic Area is a great place to eat lunch after your programs are finished. Students can bring a trail snack to eat between programs.
The Cradle of Forestry Story (18 minutes) – Set in the late 1800’s, this movie reveals the significance of the site while it introducing America’s forestry pioneers and their work. Viewing the video before your visit saves time and is a great resource. It can be borrowed or purchased.
Exhibit Hall Exploration (approximately 45 minutes) – Explore our hands-on educational Exhibit Hall in the Forest Discovery Center using age appropriate activities that supplement our programs and your curriculum. Conservation history, habitats, careers, and forest products are just some topics ready for discovery. A simulated fire-fighting helicopter ride and scavenger hunt are highlights for some students.
Interpretive Trails (1 hour each) - Walk on two 1-mile paved trails. The Biltmore Campus Trail passes seven historical buildings, including a schoolhouse, commissary, and student quarters. The Forest Festival Trail explores Dr. Schenck’s forestry experiments, a portable saw mill, and a logging locomotive that students can climb aboard. The trails stimulate discussions about ways of living, habitat, how plants grow, succession, energy cycling, forestry concepts, and issues while you enjoy the forest at your fingertips.
The Biltmore Forest School’s Group Programs
The Cradle of Forestry continues the legacy of conservation education initiated in 1898 by forester and teacher, Dr. Carl Alwin Schenck, founder of the Biltmore Forest School. We commonly use Dr. Schenck’s experiments as examples during our programs. This rich history combined with the diverse Pisgah National Forest offers students an experience found nowhere else.
The Cradle of Forestry Movie - An 18-minute movie in the Forest Discovery Center’s auditorium reveals the story behind the Cradle’s scenery and the character of Dr. Schenck, forester and founder of the Biltmore Forest School. Set in the late 1800’s, it introduces America’s forestry pioneers and challenges they faced. If your group’s time at the Cradle is pressed you can arrange to view this useful resource before your visit when you make your reservation.
Indoor Scavenger Hunts and Fact Safaris - Age appropriate scavenger hunts and fact safaris supplement Cradle of Forestry programs while facilitating your group’s exploration of the Forests for Life exhibit hall.
“Can You Find…?” : two versions of scavenger hunts use line drawings to challenge our youngest visitors in a search for certain plants, animals and objects among the exhibits. A third targets readers and has no pictures on it, but many more things to look for than the other two. Each hunt allows discussion of wildlife habitats, tools, and forest products while children practice observation skills.
Fun Forest Facts: (3rd grade and up) combines the fun features of the illustrated scavenger hunts with matching activities, drawing, and questioning.
The Cradle of Forestry Fact Safari: (4th grade and up) requires some information processing from the exhibits for matching and multiple choice questions, while giving clues to where answers can be found.
Plant Safari: (5th grade and up) combines a mapping activity with information about the interdependence of plants and animals, focusing around The Big Tree exhibit.
Forest Discovery Fact Safari: (7th grade and up) directs learners to exhibits holding answers to fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions and encourages skimming exhibit panels for key words. Although this fact safari requires the most information processing and time, it addresses forest ecology, forestry history, natural resource careers, and multiple use forestry.
Guided Trail Tours- The paved Biltmore Campus Trail and Forest Festival Trail flank the Forest Discovery Center. These scenic sidewalks, accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, put the forest at your fingertips. Guided walks provoke discussions about the work of Dr. Schenck, the dedicated forester and teacher who cared for these woods over a century ago. Ways of living, habitat, succession, energy cycling, plant identification, natural resources, and forest health are other topics your guide can focus on while your group enjoys a ramble in the woods. Tours take at least 50 minutes.
Biltmore Campus Trail: 1.0 mile; winds through the Biltmore Forest School’s rustic campus. A one-room schoolhouse, general store, cabins, blacksmith shop, and a garden provide opportunities to discuss life in the early 1900’s and forest resources. Glimpse the lives of the first American forestry students and the families who lived here. If time is pressed a visit to the first three buildings only can be arranged and still be meaningful.
Forest Festival Trail: 1.3 miles; blends Dr. Schenck’s forestry experiments with forest work today while allowing for discussions on many topics, including how plants grow, decomposition, forest issues, and past transportation methods. Highlights include an ozone garden, antique portable sawmill, and a 1915 Climax locomotive. Climb aboard and ring the bell!
Forest Discovery Trail: over 2 miles; beyond the Forest Festival Trail; follows a grassy road bed through the woods. A guided walk along this trail offers students in higher grades and adult groups a lengthy immersion into the forest. Not wheelchair accessible.
Field Trip Experiences
The Cradle of Forestry’s thematic program design includes activities that reinforce each other. You can customize your field trip by combining one of the activities appearing below in italics with a guided trail walk and exhibit hall activity. We adapt program format according to your time restraints, group size, and weather. Programs and fact safaris are correlated to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for science and/or social studies. All teach basic process skills like observing, classifying, and communicating, and help students develop a positive attitude toward science and conservation.
Who Eats Who Where? K-2 – Students use their senses to explore and contrast two habitats (Zoom in on Nature), play a game about predator-and-prey relationships and energy flow in a food chain (Food For Who?), and participate in an interactive puppet show exploring a tree’s life cycle and niche in a forest (Sally Snag, The Animal Inn). The scavenger hunt and Build a Forest Flannel Board are other optional activities on this topic, especially in inclement weather.
Migration: Risky Business, Grades 4-6 – Migratory birds face awesome challenges as they travel to suitable habitat in the spring and fall. Students roll dice and follow a “migration route” as neo-tropical migratory birds, and encounter perils and advantages real birds face along the way. Who will survive? It’s up to chance!
Arthropod Hunt/Aquatic Ecology (Grades 2 to 6) - Teams dig into stumps and peek into leaf piles to find arthropods and infer the roles these animals play in forest ecosystems. Students also investigate an aquatic ecosystem during a Pond Exploration. This program addresses concepts of body structure, adaptations, metamorphosis, decomposition, and issues of forest health and water quality.
Getting To Know Trees (Grades 4-6) - Students use observation and a simple key to learn tree identification skills (Keying Out Trees). By Reading the Rings they find out the story of a tree’s life and play a game to predict what growth ring patterns would look like under certain conditions (Every Tree for Itself). Goods from the Woods explores the everyday items that surprisingly come from trees. Trees truly are tremendous!
Plant Discovery (Grades K-8) – Investigate a diverse forest while observing, identifying, comparing, and personalizing plants. Build an understanding of growth, adaptations, and interdependence with wildlife and people. This versatile program can include activities on topics of your choice: plant identification (What’s in a Name?), pollination (Bud Buddies), invasive exotic species (Green Invaders), soil erosion (Just Passing Through), and plant uses in the past and present (Plant Lore). For grades 5 and over, the program includes a plant mapping activity in our exhibit hall (Plant Safari).
Tools, Toys, and Resources to Survive the 1800’s (Grades K-8) - A hands-on experience to capture students’ imaginations and challenge their thinking skills while they compare past technology and lifestyles with today’s. Younger students also discover toys and play from the past. Students in grades 6-8 explore a “Tree Trail” to meet the tree species used for tools, cabins, and other wood products.
Living with the Forest (Grade 3) – In small groups among the Cradle’s historic buildings, children role-play doing chores in an early 1900’s mountain community. They experience how family and community members depended on each other and our forest resources and make comparisons to life today. To make the most of this popular social studies curriculum, a teacher’s guide with pre-visit and post-visit activities integrating music and language arts and a workshop at your school are available. Please ask about these when you make your reservation.
Gumshoes in the Pink Beds (Grade 4) – Students form detective teams and poke around historic buildings of the old Biltmore Forest School campus. By decoding clues and observing artifacts, they draw conclusions about life in the early 1900’s Pink Beds community and how people used, modified, and adapted to the forest. They also estimate what significant events occurred in this historic North Carolina valley.
Bogs, Bugs, and Beavers (Grades 5 & up) – Examine wetland ecosystems of the Pink Beds valley with a guided hike to areas of past beaver activity. While discussing positive and negative consequences of change, we’ll explore and learn about aquatic life, mountain bogs, forest succession, food webs, and landscape influences. Bring shoes that can get wet and muddy.
Cruisin’ the Woods (High School) – Students learn about multiple use forestry and wood products while applying tree identification, measurement, and math skills to inventory a forest plot. They complete calculations and compile data in a post-visit activity provided. Sturdy shoes required. Expect uneven, sloped ground.
Watershed Wanderings (High School & Up) - Students imagine a raindrop’s path in this fair-weather field exercise, which focuses on a forested watershed. Following transects, teams inventory vegetation composition and density and record observations of light, moisture, and forest structure. From this data they draw conclusions and form research questions. You can easily repeat this activity to compare this headwaters area to a lower urban setting in your school’s community. Sturdy shoes required. Expect uneven, sloped ground.
Pre-school to K Discovery Walks – Using senses we’ll explore the Cradle’s backyard habitat garden and along the trails. Matching colors and working with magnifying glasses, interspersed with quiet moments, helps build vocabulary and listening skills with the natural world as the focus.
Programs for Adult Groups - Many of the programs described above can be adapted for adult groups. In addition to these outdoor-oriented experiences, the following presentations can be scheduled for groups in the…
Forest Discovery Center: Protecting the Swamp Pink: a Powerpoint program describing a special plant and actions the US Forest Service took in Forest Discovery Center design to prevent storm water run-off into its unique wetland habitat.
Our Forest Heritage: A slide program giving a synopsis of forestry history in America, the creation of the US Forest Service, and managing national forests for many values today.
•The Junior Forest Ranger program
•Pre-visit and post-visit activity suggestions
•Program curriculum correlations (North Carolina) and summaries
•Borrowing or purchasing Cradle of Forestry’s 18 min movie as a pre-visit activity
•Using our classrooms and the forest for your own lessons
•Educational kits: (Project Learning Tree Trunk and Wilderness and Land Ethics Box) for classroom use
•BSA Forestry Merit Badge
•Reserving a young tree for your school campus.
To book your group call Cindy Carpenter at 828-877-3130.