Van Cortlandt Adventures


Students helping to plant trees with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park on the John Muir Trail Bronx, NY.

Students helping to plant trees on the John Muir Trail.

Bring your students to the third largest park in New York City, Van Cortlandt Park, for a truly unique educational experience in a beautiful natural setting. Our programs allow you to add 1,146 acres of wetlands, meadows, old growth forest and a lake to your classroom.  Whether you come once or several times, your students will have fun and learn the importance of preserving nature.


Our Van Cortlandt Adventure programs can now be booked online using Explorable Places. Please Note: We are implementing a nominal registration fee of $500/education program beginning in the Fall of 2019.  We will open up Fall 2019 registration dates in early September.  Volunteer programs for school groups remain free.  For additional information, contact Sara Kempton at or by phone at 718-601-1553.



Programs for School Groups

Forester for a Day

Two part program-

First students will learn about the basics of forest ecology, including requirements for survival, habitats and the web of life. During the second visit, students will have an opportunity to plant trees and shrubs along the trail to help restore it.
Program for 4th grade and up. Each visit is 1.5 to 2 hours. Spring and Fall only.

Nature Awareness

The sights, sounds, textures and scents of the woodlands and meadows are a wonderful experience for everyone. Let us introduce your students to the natural beauty that is Van Cortlandt Park as we hike through woodlands and wetlands along the John Kieran Trail.
Program for 3rd grade and under. Program runs for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Freshwater Ecology

Your students will play the role of an aquatic biologist to determine just how healthy Van Cortlandt Lake is. We will test the pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and more of the lake. Then, using nets, students will collect insects and fish and examine them under microscopes.  The data collected will be compared with other students results to determine the status of the lake over time.
Program for 3rd grade and up. Program runs for 1.5-2 hours. Spring, Summer and Fall only!

Take a Hike

Van Cortlandt Park Where NYC HikesCome see why VCP is Where NYC Hikes!  FVCP tour guides will leading you and your students on a hike through some of the 20 plus miles of hiking trails in Van Cortlandt Park. Tree identification, exotic and native wildlife and a little park history are just some of the topics of the tour. Bring walking shoes and water for this adventure in the park.
Program for 6th grade and up. Programs runs for 1 to 3 hours. Year-round.

Garden Explorations

Student will have the opportunity to explore our garden from our Butterfly Garden to our Compost Bins to our Vegetable Bed.  Students will learn how their food grows and how everything from soil to bees are connected in the garden.  Topics covered include: food webs, decomposition, pollination and horticulture.
Program for all grades. Program runs for 1- 1.5 hours.
 Spring, Summer and Fall only!


Programs for High School and College

Freshwater and Ecosystem Ecology

This program exposes Upper level students on a Biology track for College or Career to the concepts, methods and modes of field analysis used by biologists and research ecologists working in urban freshwater and forest ecosystems. FVCP long term research projects, including understanding the dynamics of water chemistry, the community ecology of Benthic Macro Invertebrates and patterns of diversity in forest insects, will be used as a platform to give students the opportunity to dive deeper into ecological concepts such as trophic interactions, evolutionary-ecological feedbacks, experimental design, field techniques and protocol.  In addition, FVCP staff is willing to come to college and high school classes to present both our work and opportunities for students.

 Duration and Time Flexible

Programs for Teachers

Exploring Bronx Forests

A NYCDOE After School Professional Development 30 hour course for NYC teachers offered by the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  This course uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include the Butterfly Project, Project WILD, Compost Project, Flying Wild, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.