Field Trips to the Nature Centers
Broward County parks and nature centers are excellent places to explore the wonders of nature and the history of Florida. Each nature center/park offers quality environmental education programs to broaden your students' science horizons. The distinctive habitats of pinelands, hammocks, mangroves, swamps, and wetlands provide opportunities for hands-on environmental education and nature adventures.
We offer environmental education programs for most age and ability levels. These field trips will give students an awareness of our fragile natural areas and the plants and animals sharing our South Florida environment. Through interactive and hands-on experiences, students will get a greater understanding of the intricacies of nature and the role history plays in forming our community. We also incorporate grade-specific curriculum objectives into many of these field trips. Find a program that fits your curriculum and join us for the adventure.
Along with field trips to a nature center or natural area, there are many programs and amenities to explore within the Broward County park system. If you would like a field trip to any park, please call the park office to make arrangements.
Checklist for a Successful Visit
- Reserve your scheduled visit with the park office.
- Send in your deposit and pay the balance on the date of the field trip.
- Arrange transportation; coordinate your arrival and departure times with the bus driver and the park naturalist or other park employee.
- Recruit chaperones - one adult for every 10 students is the required ratio; chaperones are not charged a program participation fee.
- Arrange for lunch at a shelter (not available at all sites; call for reservations).
- Contact the park with your final group number seven days prior to your visit.
- Review behavior expectations with students and chaperones.
- Give your bus driver directions.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled program.
- Programs and activities are subject to modification at the discretion of park staff and/or group leaders.
Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park (north side of Sheridan Street)
There are picnic tables to accommodate small groups at the nature center and an outdoor amphitheater for large groups. The Mangrove Hall is available for indoor activities. Large groups often prefer to picnic at West Lake Park, a short drive from the nature center. Staff will assist you with your lunch or snack plans.
Deerfield Island Park
There are picnic tables along the boardwalk and a small shelter to accommodate up to 40 guests.
Fern Forest Nature Center
There is a small shelter to accommodate small groups at the nature center and an outdoor amphitheater for larger groups. The Royal Fern Hall can accommodate large indoor events such as weddings, reunions, and parties. A beverage machine is located on site for your convenience.
Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center
There are no shelters or outdoor picnic areas. This nature center has a classroom for activities, the Oak Hammock Hall for large group presentations, and an interactive exhibit hall.
Secret Woods Nature Center
Although there are no outdoor picnic facilities at this site, the Julia Hall is available for presentations, and an outdoor amphitheater, the Monarch Interpretive Center, and the Swallowtail Classroom are also available to groups.
Dates fill up quickly, so schedule field trips well in advance of your visit. Please call the park/nature center of your choice between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make a reservation. Check individual park/nature center program listings for scheduled offerings.
We require a deposit to confirm your reservation, and we must receive it no later than 14 days prior to your program. The size of your group determines the amount of the deposit, and we will apply the deposit to the final cost of the program. We will send a confirmation letter to your group. You must pay the balance of the cost for the program on the date of the field trip.
Please call immediately to cancel a field trip. Broward County Parks guidelines require a person authorized to initiate the environmental education program reservation to provide Broward County Parks and Recreation with a written letter of cancellation either to request a refund of the reservation deposit or to reschedule the field trip. This will enable us to offer a field trip to another group on our waiting list. Please allow six to eight weeks to receive a refund.
Group Size and Chaperones
There is a minimum of 10 participants. The maximum is stated for each program. We require that there be at least one adult for every 10 students ages 6 and over. One chaperone for every 10 students, ages 6 and up, receives complimentary admission. For children ages 5 and younger, one adult for every five students is required. The chaperones, not the instructors, are responsible for the conduct, discipline, and safety of their group.
Tour Length and Fee
Fees vary depending on the program Call the nature center for details. Some special programs also include additional costs for materials, environmental boat tours, and exhibit hall tours. To ensure that your students receive a full tour, please arrive on time. Notify us immediately if there will be a delay in arrival time.
Participants will be outside, so have them dress appropriately for the weather. Closed-toe shoes are required. Shorts, pants, old shoes, and play clothes are recommended because the students will be hiking and may get dirty during some of the activities. Make sure students have sun protection, water, hats, and insect repellent. We also request that each participant have a securely attached name tag to increase interaction between instructors and participants.
Individuals With Special Needs
Our park staff will make every effort to meet your group's program needs. When making a reservation for your program, please inform park staff of any special needs or considerations. Requests for auxiliary aids for communication must be made at the time of your reservation.
Shelters and picnic tables are available at most sites on a first-come, first-served basis. Shelter reservations are available for a fee. Check with the park of your choice for more information. Bring your own lunches and drinks. Some sites have soda machines available. Restrooms and drinking fountains are located in park buildings and some of the corporate shelters.
Feeding of wildlife is prohibited. Please keep our parks clean and litter-free for other visitors and park wildlife.
Nature Center Manners
Be Gentle and Quiet
Explore Broward County's nature centers and parks, but respect nature's serenity. Loud noises keep animals in hiding and reduce your chance of seeing them. Be mindful of other hikers so that all can have an enjoyable experience. Cell phones disrupt programs; please put your cell phone on silent or vibrate during the program.
Be Kind to Animals
Harassing animal wildlife is against the law and can harm the animals. Feeding of wildlife encourages their dependence on humans, provides poor nutrition, and can increase your chance of being bitten. Let's just watch them and learn how they live in their habitat.
Be Kind to Plants
Plants need their leaves to make food and their flowers to produce seeds. Please do not pick our plants. Leave them for the butterflies, birds, insects, and other people to enjoy.
Stay on the Trail
For your own comfort and safety, stay on trails and boardwalks. Trails protect the natural environment, increase your safe passage in the woods, and reduce your chance of encountering poisonous plants. It is unlawful to drop off or remove any object from park/nature center grounds.