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Guided Lessons and Special Programs

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center is a place for adults and children alike to explore, learn and grow. There are a number of special programs and services available to teachers and schools in the area.

Guided Lessons

Lesson Format

Lessons are taught Monday through Friday during the school year, any time between 9 AM and 3 PM. Friends of Five Rivers works with NYSDEC staff to offer these lessons. Spring and fall lessons are taught completely outdoors. Winter lessons begin with an indoor introduction before going into the field. Complete descriptions of each season's lessons are available at the "School Programs" tab on the Friends' website.

We can accommodate a wide range of special needs, including students with mobility impairments and/or physical challenges. Please indicate any need your group may have when you complete your Lesson Request Form.

Learning Standards

Five Rivers' environmental education classes can help your students understand many key ideas from the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology, particularly the Living Environment component of Standard 4: Science, and the Scientific Inquiry component of Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design.

Using the scientific method, we provide hands-on experiences and opportunities for students to be actively engaged in the discovery process. Students will focus on such concepts as adaptations, life cycles, food chains and seasonal change, and will make their own observations of plant and wildlife habitats.

Group Size, Chaperones and Instructors

To provide the most effective outdoor experience, large classes are divided into smaller groups. The maximum field party size allowed is 15 students. There must be at least two adults (chaperone or teacher) provided by the school for each group of 15 students. More adults are welcome and are free of charge.

Adults must be dressed for the trail, and come prepared to participate fully in all activities and to assist the instructor with simple tasks when asked to do so. Teachers and chaperones are responsible for the discipline of the group.

Five Rivers instructors include Center staff, and docents who have been trained by Center staff in environmental education content and methods, and in specific learning outcomes associated with the lesson.


A fee is charged for these lessons to cover the cost of running the program. This fee is based on the number of field parties needed. Please note that you are responsible for paying for the number of students originally scheduled, even if some are absent. The current fee schedule is available on the Friends' website (leaves DEC website).

Reimbursement is available through the Capital Region BOCES Arts in Education and Exploratory Enrichment Program as well as NY Connect Kids Grant Program. (leaves DEC website) The Friends of Five Rivers also offers a scholarship program for schools in financial need. A scholarship application form can be found on the Friends' website.


Complete the Lesson Request Form (leaves DEC website) available from the Friends' website. Lesson Request Forms are accepted beginning in September for the upcoming school year. Shortly after your Lesson Request Form has been received, you will receive a confirmation letter outlining the details of your visit as well as pre-visit materials to use in preparing your group and chaperones for their visit. Popular programs fill quickly. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Before and After the Lesson

Your group is invited to make use of Five Rivers' other amenities (interpreted nature trails, Visitor Center exhibits, picnic area and restrooms) before or after your lesson.

Five Rivers Tails by Mail

Five Rivers has developed educational kits on a variety of environmental topics especially for teachers and youth leaders. Each Tails by Mail kit features biological specimens, books, pamphlets, posters and curriculum enhancement ideas which can help teachers meet NYS standards and enhance classroom instruction. Funded by Friends of Five Rivers, the kits are available on a reservation basis, either by (pre-paid) mail or (free) pick up, and may be borrowed for up to two weeks.