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School programs

School programs


While walking the 1¼ mile Old Growth Trail, students will experience three forest ecosystems: northern hardwood forest, old growth conifer forest and a mixed forest (hardwoods and evergreens). Tree identification, plant life cycles, wildlife habitat and diversity, forest management, plant diversity and ecosystems are presented to the students. You may also request that we focus on specific topics such as insects, tree species, wood products, etc. The tour lasts one hour but can be shortened or lengthened based on your time constraints.


Students will be guided along the Old Growth Trail that leads to the Logging Museum buildings. The first building the students will visit is the Blacksmith Building. Here the students will learn about an important time in Michigan's history, the white pine logging era.

The second building is the Bunkhouse Building. In this building, students will get to know more about what life in a logging camp was like during the white pine logging era. Students will be introduced to "lumberjack lingo," the different and sometimes funny names the lumberjacks used for everyday items. Donuts were sinkers, coffee was blackjack, and a bad camp cook was called a belly-robber. The tour also lasts one hour but can be shortened or lengthened based on your time constraints.


The Old Growth Trail tour and a guided tour of the Logging Museum are stand-alone options, but most of the teachers that currently visit us reserve a two-hour block of time and sign up for our Old Growth/Logging Museum Program. This allows the students to fulfill the Michigan history AND biological lesson requirements in one visit. For groups of 30 or more, we split the classes into two sections, one taking the Old Growth Trail and the other visiting the Logging Museum. After an hour, the two groups switch, which allows our interpreters to have a more one-on-one or hands-on approach to interpretation/education.


Hartwick Pines' park interpreter Craig Kasmer is a forester and has a professional forestry degree. He can talk in-depth to your students about forest ecosystems, silvicultural (forest management) techniques, woody plant studies, tree identification studies, invasive plant and insect concerns, and any other forestry or tree-related subject matter. Give Craig a call and discuss the options. Program length can vary.


Learn about Michigan's wildlife in a way that your students will never forget! The students will attempt to guess what kind of animal (pelt, skull, etc.) they are holding while blindfolded. After giving several hints, the blindfold is removed, and then a short presentation on the animal is given. Program length is one hour, and naturally every student will not have an opportunity to be blindfolded, but rest assured that everyone will remember at least one thing about one of Michigan's wild creatures.


Generally the first or second Saturday in April is the Hartwick Pines Maple Syrup Day event. Leading up to that day and for a few weeks after, our maple trees near the Michigan Forest Visitor Center are tapped and producing buckets of sap. Bring your class out to see how to tap a maple tree, collect the sap and boil it down to make maple syrup. Tapping demonstrations are usually at 10:30 a.m. and every hour after that. Learn firsthand how the Native Americans used to collect and boil down sap to make maple sugar; afterwards make a paper Mokuk, the sap-collecting vessel originally made from birch bark. The event is from 10 a.m. - 4p.m.


We have dozens of pairs of snowshoes that visitors are welcome to borrow throughout the winter (grade school-sized and adult sizes). Why not bring your class to Hartwick Pines to enjoy Michigan's great outdoors and learn what goes on in a forest during the winter time? Although the Logging Museum buildings are closed during the winter months, the trails are open. Signs of wildlife are all around, from tracks and scat to snowfleas and winter birds. Program duration is at least one hour.

Complete this form to request a program.