Welcome to the world of Pilcher Park Nature Center - a world of discovery, exploration, science in action, and natural beauty! Why should you bring your class to Pilcher Park for a field trip? We understand the pressures of curriculum expectations and fulfilling learning standards . . . those are the reasons a field trip to Pilcher Park is the perfect choice!

Curriculum Expectations. With today's curriculum, you have a lot of information to cover in a school year. We can't think of a better way to bring science alive than by seeing and exploring the world students read about in their textbooks. Plus, after your trip, you can have them do language activities, art, or math problems that refer to your day at Pilcher Park!

Fulfilling Learning Standards. A field trip to Pilcher Park is the ideal way to fulfill numerous learning standards while fostering students' love of learning. Through our hikes and hands-on activities, we use their boundless energy as a learning PLUS! The standards addressed by each field trip are listed in the Field Trip Guide. (See link below.)

We also would like to call attention to some of our longer field trips. Interviews with numerous teachers, like yourself, taught us that by the time the kids are bussed, "field tripped," and bussed back to school, even a one-hour field trip feels like all day. So why not make a day of it? Programs are geared for a full school day of learning and fun. Or, combine two or more of our other exciting programs with a picnic lunch and you have made the most of your trip! We hope to see you this year out at the park!

We Promise

Our friendly naturalists will greet your group and tell you the plan for the day. We will try to provide the smallest naturalist-to-student ratio possible. Each naturalist will present the same basic information, but each group will find different teachable moments, making their experience unique. (Great for discussions back in the classroom.) Your students will have interactive, exploratory, and exciting learning experiences. We treat this as an informal classroom, where learning is still the foundation. We will try to meet any special requests or needs you may have to accommodate your class. Feel free to call ahead and talk to one of the naturalists.

Registering for a Program

Schedule ahead - Some months fill very quickly, so get your reservation in early. There is a minimum of 20 people for all programs. (Maple Syrup minimum is 30 people.) Find the perfect field trip. Note seasonal limitations - some programs are not offered in winter, others are only offered in winter... so be sure to check! Call and reserve a day! Call us between 9 am & 3 pm, Monday through Friday at 815-741-7277 with questions about programs and availability. All programs require a $150 deposit. Note that all Maple Syrup field trips require a 50% deposit to schedule. The Paper Trail - we will send out confirmation summarizing your trip, and call you one week in advance to confirm the number of attendees. The Big Day - please bring your confirmation letter along with any outstanding payment due. Checks should be made payable to Joliet Park District.

Our Mission

is to educate children and adults about the wonders of nature through exploration, discovery, and fun. We hope to help create lifelong lovers of the environment by providing frequent, participant-inspired, exciting access to wild places.

For the BEST Field Trip...

We recommend that you and your students arrive DRESSED FOR THE WEATHER. A comfortable hiker is a happy hiker. Bring rain coats & boots as needed. If it is not thundering or lightning, we will go outside. Wear older shoes (no open toes) and clothes that can get dirty. Long pants are recommended year-round. Winter field trippers: dress for hiking (hats, coats, mittens, boots) - we WILL go outside. Groups will be divided up into 25 students for most programs. We feel this ensures a great experience. Teachers and chaperones will express enthusiasm while on the field trip. It's contagious! Teachers/chaperones who are engaged and excited inspire the same in their students. There will be no charge for chaperones, up to one for every 10 students. Any more than this will have to pay a class fee. (There is a fee for chaperones for the Maple Syrup Breakfast and Follow the Drinking Gourd field trips.) Cell phones must be turned off.

Have a REALLY BIG group? Fear Not! Choose at least two field trips and we can rotate your "super-sized" group between the different field trips. We want to see you this year and will try to accommodate your group size when possible. Field trip group maximums are listed and adhered to because we also know the best environmental field trip is the one where all of the students in the group can interact easily with their naturalist. Also, some field trip group sizes are limited due to equipment or space constraints. Call with questions!

Field Trip Guide Field Trip Reimbursement Form