Forest Park Forever's educational programs reach more than 300 regional teachers — and in turn more than 70,000 of their students.

Photograph by Scott Ferguson

An Outdoor Learning Lab For All

Every year, throughout Forest Park’s 1,300 acres, there are young minds at work. Kindergarteners explore the shapes and colors of the savanna in Deer Lake. Middle school students dip nets into the waterways to retrieve and identify macroinvertebrates and study the water quality. High school students conduct physics experiments on a field near the Planetarium. Scouts work together to locate and identify native Missouri trees. Sixth graders use the Park’s statues and monuments as a way to explore Civil War history. Students sing responses to a storytelling teacher in tucked-away Council Circle. 

Voyage of Learning Teachers' Academy

Voyagers from the class of 2014

Voyagers from the class of 2014

Now in its 15th year, Voyage of Learning Teachers' Academy is a summer program for teachers working in the St. Louis area that builds meaningful connections between students, teachers, the Voyager institutions and cultural institutions in Forest Park. Throughout the eight days of intensive professional development programming, the instructional team emphasizes knowledge, skills and resources essential to effective experiential education, with the ultimate goal of encouraging teachers to utilize Forest Park as a natural extension of the classroom.

To date, the program has trained 365 teachers to incorporate outdoor learning into their classes, impacting 70,000 students throughout the region. Voyage of Learning: 

  • Builds teachers’ skills
  • Promotes interdisciplinary approaches
  • Aligns with “Show Me” Standards
  • Creates a pool of resources

For teachers, the program offers:

  • 5 PDU credits
  • 3 Graduate Credits available through UMSL
  • Transportation/Bus Funds for class trips

Please click here to learn more and apply for the program. 

Nature Works

Nature Works 2014.jpg

Forest Park Forever’s Nature Works is a ‘green workforce' development program aimed at reaching St. Louis high school students — especially traditionally underserved students in Saint Louis Public Schools — and introducing them to environmental job opportunities by linking classroom curriculum with outdoor education and work activities in the nearby green space of Forest Park. 

Students will benefit the most by gaining unique environmental learning opportunities while also gaining hands-on work experience, building a network with environmental professionals and obtaining a greater understanding for and comfort with working in the outdoors. 

Teachers will experience another way to enrich classroom curricula with interactive presentations, field trips and hands-on training that will help them show students how classroom lessons can be applied to meaningful activities that reach beyond school walls. Teachers will connect with a network of professional educators and environmental professionals who can offer additional personal and classroom benefits. 

Forest Park will benefit through increased stewardship from youth who not only use the Park but who now understand what it takes to care for its grounds — today and for decades to come. 

Click here to learn more about Nature Works, including how to apply. 

Summer Youth Experience

This tree is like a secret magic place!

Nature is important to children’s development in every major way — intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. The Forest Park Summer Youth Experience connects urban youth with nature.

Sixty youth from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis connect with their natural world and enjoy the many benefits of outdoor, inquiry-based experiential education. Children use their five senses to learn about fish, forest, plant and wildlife. These exciting explorations increased the children’s competence and confidence in the outdoors and open their eyes to the many natural wonders found within Forest Park. 
The benefits of such a program to children remain profound. A growing body of research reveals the significance of early experiences with being outdoors in nature as an important factor in developing environmental awareness and stewardship.  Studies also show that experiences children have outdoors can provide benefits such as increased fitness and decreased obesity, improved distance vision, reduced ADHD, decreased stress, anxiety and depression, higher test scores and higher developed critical thinking skills. While baby boomers and older generations spent most of their time enjoying natural play outdoors, today’s children often stay indoors and focus more on the digital world — resulting in lost contact with nature.

A 2013 video about the Summer Youth Experience program

Programs such as the Forest Park Summer Youth Experience offer children an opportunity to think, touch and play, encouraging them to wonder about and make real connections with the natural world.  The program incorporates valuable life lessons of collaboration and cooperation, encourages future engagement with nature and introduces the participants to different natural areas within the St. Louis area that are open to the public for further exploration.

Questions or interest? Email FPF Education Coordinator Jean Turney or call her at 314.367.7275. 

Walking Tours & Classes

Throughout the year, Forest Park Forever offers engaging walking tours and classes for the general public — about wildflowers, birds, Forest Park history and more — led by experienced naturalists.

The Forest Park Forever team and our partners offer ongoing classes on a variety of subjects, from seed collection to tree identification. Learn More »

The Heart of The Park Walking Tours
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour that explores the "Heart of the Park" from the grasses to the canopy. Led by Forest Park Forever staff. Learn More »

Wildflower Walks
On the fourth Tuesday of every Month, from April–October, enjoy these informal, fun and educational plant walks that will explore the native wildflowers found within Forest Park’s Nature Reserves. Learn More »

Birding Basics & Bird Watching Tours
Throughout the year, Forest Park Forever offers engaging and fun birding programs, led by experience guides, including indoor educational gatherings for beginning birders of all ages. Learn More »

Self-Guided iPod Walking Tours
Self-guided audio tours of Forest Park are available for checkout from the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center, 5595 Grand Drive. Learn More »

Guided Tours with Forest Park Forever Volunteers
Forest Park Forever volunteers can lead small groups on walking tours of the Park, or offer hop-on tour guide services to groups and organizations with their own transportation. Learn More »

A Great Place to Learn:

Interested in integrating the Park into your classroom or educational program? Contact FPF Education Coordinator Jean Turney today.