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Environmental Education Programs for Schools and Community Groups

Environmental Education Programs for Schools and Community Groups

"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater." --Gail Godwin

From Flagstaff Mountain to Sombrero Marsh, from Chautauqua Meadow to Doudy Draw, there are natural treasures to be found. The lands of Open Space and Mountain Parks contain the Flatiron formations, forests, prairies, wetlands, and abundant wildlife. We encourage educators and community members to take advantage of this outdoor classroom and the services provided free by Open Space and Mountain Parks staff and volunteers. We are happy to help you in any way we can. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do programs cost? Nothing! Open Space & Mountain Parks offers these programs free of charge as a community service, supported by City of Boulder sales tax. To pay for your program, shop in Boulder. Exception: For-profit corporations will be charged a fee of $200 per naturalist to cover operational costs.

How large a group can I bring? Classroom programs have no upper limit, hikes are limited to 75 participants based on naturalist availability. If you plan to bring your own group without an OSMP guide, you may need a permit.

What's the smallest group I can bring? Seven people is the smallest group we can accommodate. 

Do programs align with Colorado's State Model Content standards? Yes! OSMP programs are custom created for each group and therefore easily comply with Colorado State educational standards.

How do I sign up? Email us the Program Request Form on this website or call 303-413-7616 to request a form in the mail. We need a minimum of four weeks advance notice to process your request at which time we will email you a confirmation if we can accommodate you.

How far in advance must I sign up? We require four weeks, more during busy months (April - June, September-October).

How often can I sign up? Please no more than two programs per group or class per year.

Are programs offered in Spanish? Yes! Be sure and specify this option when you register.

May I bring students with special needs? Our naturalists have no special training to work with children with special needs. You must bring an aide or assistant who is familiar with the children. Please specify this when you register.

Are programs only for schools? Scout groups, home schools, adult classes, church groups, community clubs and organizations are all welcome and will not be charged for programs.

Are there age limits on the group? Pre-school to infinity.

Must we observe park rules on our trip? Yes. Please familiarize yourself and your group with Open Space and Mountain Parks rules and regulations before your trip.

Do you have online resources for educators? Yes! Visit our educators' resource page for an ever-growing selection of resources to help you plan classes, workshops, and activities. Download information and fun hands-on activities for geology, flora, fauna, and history. Or, visit our Kids' Pages for downloadable puzzles and games you can print off and use with children.

OSMP Naturalist-led Programs and Hikes

Open Space and Mountain Parks staff and volunteers provide free hikes in the park and slide shows and talks in the classroom. We have been committed to providing quality environmental education and interpretation for over 25 years. Our programs are intended to instill respect and appreciation for the natural environment and encourage conservation-minded decision making. We want your experience with us to be a memorable one. Please see the list of topics provided by Open Space and Mountain Parks. These topics may be tailored to meet the needs of your group. The more information you can provide on your curriculum needs and lesson planning, the better we can integrate your learning experience in the park. For more information or to receive a request form by mail, call 303-413-7616. If you are ready to register, please use the request form on this website.

  • Please register at least four weeks in advance.
  • You can request hikes and programs for any day except holidays. April through June and September are busy months; we appreciate if you can schedule at other times.
  • Many programs can be presented in the classroom. Let us bring open space to you!
  • For hikes, small groups are preferable. However, we understand that scheduling and transportation may dictate your group size, and we will do our best to accommodate hiking groups of up to 60. We strive to maintain a ratio of 15 participants per naturalist, hence we will divide large groups between several guides.
  • We offer programs in Spanish.
  • Participants with disabilities or special needs must be accompanied by a trained aide or teacher familiar with any special requirements.

ASL Interpretation by Request

OSMP can provide an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter to accompany naturalist-led hikes and programs, and some community events. Please let us know with as much advanced notice as possible, preferably at least one week. For more information, please contact Dave Sutherland sutherlandd@bouldercolorado.gov (720) 564 2057 or Juanita Echeverri (303) 413 7616 echeverrij@bouldercolorado.gov .

Memory Loss Sensory Nature Programs

OSMP has partnered with the Denver Alzheimer’s Association SPARK program to provide free public nature programs for individuals with dementia. SPARK was originally started to provide opportunities for those with dementia as well as their caregivers, to enjoy art, museums, and cultural events in a comfortable setting. OSMP is now offering sensory programs on a variety of trails, giving people with memory loss and their caregivers the opportunity to be outside together, enjoying the land and all it has to offer. If you have a loved one who has memory loss and you would like more information about these programs, please contact OSMP Education and Outreach Coordinator Jean Koszalka at (303) 413-7622.

To find out more information about the Alzheimer’s Association SPARK program, please contact Ralph Patrick rpatrick@alz.org in Boulder, or Kera Magarill kmagarill@alz.org  in Denver. 

Leading Your Own Nature Hike

If you wish to take a hike without a park naturalist, the following guidelines will help ensure an enjoyable experience with minimal impact to the environment.

Information about Permits:

  • Outside organizations that are using school facilities and are charging a fee, receiving money for a service or require a donation,  and operate on OSMP lands, are required to get a Commercial Use Permit.
  • School activities not requiring a commercial use permit with 25 to 49 participants are required to obtain a permission letter , and must notify OSMP at least two weeks before the trip. It is not necessary to fill out the special use permit application to obtain a permission letter. You can obtain a permission letter by emailing osmppermits@bouldercolorado.gov or calling 303-441-3440. OSMP will check if the field trip site can accommodate your group, and send low impact guidelines for you to follow.
  • An educational group must be part of a curricular school activity; this includes non-competitive or training athletic activities, and before or after school activities, as long as they are related to regular school programming.  It does not include clubs or camps; these need a commercial use permit. Competitive activities are not allowed in accordance with 8-8-10 of the Boulder Revised Code.

Please direct your questions to osmppermits@bouldercolorado.gov or 303-441-3440.

Other Tips:

10-15 minute Welcome Talks by an OSMP naturalist are available upon request and strongly encouraged.

We also encourage you to design your curriculum before your trip to maximize educational benefits. We are happy to assist in any way we can. Come on a pre-hike visit to the park if possible, or explore this website to get acquainted with the area.

For inspiration and ideas, visit our educators' resource page for an ever-growing selection of resources to help you plan. Download information and activities for geology, flora, fauna, and history.

Download Common Ground pdf (a guide to exploring your home). This guide contains many thought provoking activities and questions that can enrich a field trip.

Visit our Kids' Pages to download puzzles and word searches to share with children.

Familiarize your group with park rules and regulations before your trip. A copy of these regulations and a free map can be mailed to you upon request.

Send us email at Environmental Education Programs, eeprograms@bouldercolorado.gov, or call 303-413-7616 for more information.

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